Chancy J. Gatlin-Anderson
Special to Colorado Community Media
The cafetorium at Elizabeth High School was the site of the Elizabeth School District spelling bee, held Jan. 12 with teams of four or five students each from Singing Hills Elementary, Running Creek Elementary, Elizabeth Middle School and Legacy Academy.
After a brief delay due to a scheduling miscommunication, the spelling bee was conducted in rounds, with spellers taking turns walking to the microphone, where they were given a word. Once each student had spelled their word, either correctly or incorrectly, they returned to their seat. At the end of each round, the students who spelled their word incorrectly went to the audience to sit with their family members.
Spellers, who were all elementary or middle-school age, were allowed to ask a few specific questions to the pronouncer and organizer: Can you repeat the word? Can you please use the word in a sentence? What is the language of origin? What is the definition of the word? What part of speech is the word? Can I start over?
The champion of the spelling bee was Luci Samaco, a fifth-grader from Running Creek Elementary. She will represent the Elizabeth School District at the 82nd Annual Denver Post Colorado State Spelling Bee on Mar. 5 at the University of Denver campus. Other top spellers at the district spelling bee were Carlee Schulthies from Elizabeth Middle School, who placed second, and Maddie Jobes from Legacy Academy, who placed third.
Luci Samaco said shyly after winning that she was very nervous about the competition. “I heard about it at school. I wasn’t sure I really wanted to at first,” said Luci. “The word that was the hardest for me was `beastly.’ I am really happy and proud of myself.”
Luci’s mother chimed in, expressing her excitement for Luci’s win. “She studied so hard and the whole family worked together to help her prepare,” she said. “We are super proud of her.”
The words Luci spelled correctly to take the win were: post, track, clutch, reveal, sitcom, wizard, Neptune, granules, chai, penchant, appeasement, renal, plastron, sleet, beastly, normal, deposit, crisis, inkling, and finally conflict.
Luci, Carlee and Maddie all received trophies for their placements. All other participants received certificates of achievement.
Though the event was a success for Luci, some spellers became very emotional when they missed a word and were eliminated from the competition, such as a girl who misspelled the word “knife” in round 3, leaving her in tears and eliminating her from the competition.
Organizer weighs in
The event was organized by Kristen Crookshanks, vice president and secretary for the Elizabeth Education Foundation and spelling coach for Legacy Academy. She also served as the time and word tracker for the bee. Crookshanks has served as the organizer for 12 years and will be stepping down after this year to shift her involvement to her children’s high school extracurricular activities.
“I think the event went great! I think the kids were very well prepared and stayed calm, even with the scheduling miscommunication and late start,” said Crookshanks in an email correspondence from Jan. 15. “I always think kids who do well in spelling bees are great memorizers, but this bee disproved that theory. We made it through 28 words that came from the list the kids had not seen. I think that is a fantastic testament to their ability to spell and really think about the word and its root, meaning, and spelling.”
The Elizabeth district spelling bee also hosted three local judges and a pronouncer. The judges were Elizabeth Chief of Police Melvin Berghahn, Elizabeth School District Board Member Craig Blackham, and District Student Data Management Specialist Shellie Scobee. The official pronouncer was Drew Francis, parent of three Elizabeth School District educated students and current principal at Ray E. Kilmer Elementary School in Colorado Springs.
After the completion of the competition, Chief Berghahn caught up with the Elbert County News, sharing his amazement at the spelling ability of the elementary and middle school students. “These kids are so amazing. I didn’t even know how to spell some of those words. I didn’t even know what some of the word were,” said Berghahn. “This is the second year I’ve done this. It is so much fun. I tell them to invite me back every year.”
This year’s district spelling bee was one of the most extraordinary that Crookshanks had seen in her 12 years as an organizer. “This bee was intense because there were so many spellers left at the end of each round. We usually lose one in the first-third rounds, then a bunch more as the words increase in difficulty,” Crookshanks explained. “I cannot remember a bee when we still had 13 spellers after nine rounds.”
Now that Crookshanks is leaving her role as organizer and as Legacy Academy’s spelling coach, she is looking for someone to take her place. “We are looking for volunteers for the Legacy Academy Spelling Bee for next year. I am stepping down and so far, nobody is taking it on,” said Crookshanks. “The Legacy Academy spellers would be very sad if the Legacy bee went away.”
The district bee participants were:
Elizabeth Middle School
● Carlee Schulthies
● Alex Aviles
● Lincoln Beach
● Zach Celeste
● Maddie Jobes
● Henleigh Dickman
● Anika Laws
● Lily Simmons
Running Creek Elementary
● Luci Samaco
● Carly Calahan
● Maddelyn Baker
● Chase Hamner
Singing Hills Elementary
● Kaedence Kincaid
● Cooper Tobler
● Peytin Baker
● Eva Ehlers
● Colten Siegle