Dubois County teams excel in Spell Bowl

Photos by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Holy Trinity Catholic School fifth-grader Holden Bastin, left, fifth-grader Sawyer Reckelhoff, and fourth-grader Lauren Hoffman watch during the Indiana Academic Spell Bowl Elementary Division at Cedar Crest Intermediate School in Bretzville on Monday. "It's really stressful," Sawyer said of the spell bowl. "It's a lot better than last year though, 'cause last year was our first year."


BRETZVILLE — Be honest. If someone asked you to spell “delicatessen” or “spontaneity” or “masquerade,” could you do it?

Without the help of autocorrect or word processor red lines, a group of Dubois County’s best wordsmiths proved Monday evening that they’d be just fine without those modern fixers.

At Cedar Crest Intermediate in Bretzville, spell bowlers from 12 Southwestern Indiana teams convened to compete in the 27th annual Indiana Academic Spell Bowl Elementary Division contest.

See a gallery of photos here

With 46 correct spellings of 56 total words, Holy Trinity Catholic School notched the highest score of any Dubois County group at the annual event. William Tell Elementary’s team penned the highest overall score of the night with 48 accurate spellings.

“I think it’s important to be able to express themselves in the written word,” said Debbie Kieffner, one of Holy Trinity’s coaches. “And if they’re able to spell, it makes their writing that much stronger. Which, I think, is important. And I think it also really helps with their reading and just understanding of the things around them.”

Participants and coaches interviewed for this story were on the same page: Spell Bowl is an academic competition that challenges kids to grow in many ways. They dedicate hours during lunch blocks, recesses and outside of school to honing their craft. During their practices, they do their best to memorize a list of 750 tricky words that would stump most adults.

On the big stage, spellers fight through butterflies that fill their stomachs in front of a packed gymnasium, and when it’s all said and done, they leave with practical knowledge that can put them ahead of their peers in the classroom and help them for the rest of their lives.

Cedar Crest Intermediate fifth-grader Harmony Schepers, left, explains her experience with the final word of the round that she missed to fifth-graders Jillian Matheis and Emma Schroering during the Indiana Academic Spell Bowl Elementary Division at Cedar Crest Intermediate School in Bretzville on Monday.

Gavin Winkler, a sixth-grader at Cedar Crest, likes it because it’s expanded his vocabulary. His teammate, sixth-grader Collin Lorey, believes spelling is a good way to learn. One of their coaches, Terri Bell, spoke highly of the two leaders — and all members of the school’s two teams — after the local contest on Monday. When it ended, all teams smiled and laughed while posing with their score sheets.

Monday night, 474 teams from across the state competed at 48 host sites. The contests were broken down into eight rounds that tasked individual participants with spelling seven words apiece. Those scores were added together to make up the team totals.

Complete results from Thursday night’s competition at Cedar Crest are listed below. A list of the top 10 overall team scores in the state will soon be released on the Indiana Association of School Principals’ website. There is no state competition for the spell bowl elementary contest.

Orange Class

Tenth Street Elementary took home first place in the Orange Class with 44 correct spellings. Nicolas Aguilera and Jonathan Dominguez Figueroa notched perfect scores, while Ava Sanders and Kaydance Seidl each had near-perfect rounds. Other team members were Camden Bonner, Lainee Blome, Patience Ferrera, Jett Springer, Tristan Ward, Vanessa Ramirez Acosta and Fernanda Alas. The team was coached by Heather Breslin and Maggie Griffin.

Ireland Elementary was named the runner-up in the Orange Class with 39 correct spellings. Tarun Parameswaran notched a perfect round, while Jack Kluemper and Riley Werner each notched near-perfect scores.

Other team members were Jack Gudorf, Christian Thornburg, Haley Hallet, Collin Werner, Clayton Porter, Kail Halterman, Cali Rasche and Audrey Hoffman. The team was coached by Ashley O’Connor and Amber Hoffman.

With 36 correctly spelled words, third place in the Orange Class went to Huntingburg Elementary. Hudson Smith spelled every word correctly during his round. The team was comprised of him, Madalyn Breeding, Alivia Brosmer, Yazenia Cordova, Noah Dekemper, Jonathan Figueroa, Abby Hawkins, Kensley Hiter, Kevin Mejia, Gracie Mullins, Tegan Taylor, Chloe Underhill and Kase Whitehead. The group was coached by Christine Mears and Lori Barnett.

Green Class

In the Green Class, Cedar Crest’s sixth-grade team was the sole entrant. The team amassed 42 correct spellings. Collin Lorey had a perfect round, while Addison Schneider and Kaelyn Backer each had near-perfect runs. Other team members were Alex Fischer, Grace Englert, Gavin Winkler, Amber Cunningham, Isabella Christmas, Camden Cole, Hayden Prior and Ayden Hannah. Terri Bell and Abby Rogier served as coaches.

Red Class

In the Red Class, Holy Trinity Catholic School took home first place with 46 accurate spellings. Elliott Rolwing spelled all seven of his words correctly, as did Alayna Schnell, Sam Shappard and Eli Werner. Sawyer Reckelhoff notched a near-perfect round. Team members also included Holden Bastin, Chase Brosmer, Jacqueline Cruz, Lauren Hoffman, Stella Knies, Roman Peter and Ryan Roettger. The team was coached by Debbie Kieffner and Dana Buechlein.

Petersburg Elementary was the runner-up in the Red Class with 39 correct words.

Holland Elementary placed third with 36 spotless spellings. Damian Arnold and Molly Keusch each had perfect rounds. Maverick Wright missed just one word during his time at the desk. Other team members were Laney Bardwell, Riley Blessinger, Kate Boeglin, Kali Chambers, Andy Elshoff, Bryson Keller, Ayden Kramer, Bella Meece and Wyatt Smoker. The group was coached by Sarah Bardwell.

With 34 correct spellings, fourth place in the class went to Cedar Crest Intermediate’s Red Team. Miranda Rickelman spelled all seven of her words correctly, and Emma Schroering notched a near-perfect score. The team consisted of them, Kennedy Boeglin, Camden Dunn, Bryson Kunkler, Jillian Matheis, Mackenzie Jacob, Miguel Chontal and Harmony Schepers. Coaches were Terri Bell and Abby Rogier.

Cannelton Elementary took home fifth place in the class with 27 accurate spellings, and Winslow Elementary brought back sixth place with 24 perfect words.

Blue Class

Perry Central Elementary and William Tell Elementary competed in the contest’s Blue Class. William Tell’s team spelled 48 words correctly, while Perry Central’s team had 23 accurate spellings.

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