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Competition showcases how to bee an excellent speller

Alex Green • Aug 27, 2014 at 2:41 PM

In the history of education, it may forever be known as the one time teachers and family members approved of a student's knowledge of alcohol.   

Thursday night's Ottawa County Spelling Bee — a two-hour marathon rife with mind-benders like "geode" and "igneous" — came to a close when Katelyn Farmer nailed a rather ordinary word.    

"A-L-C," she paused, then continued, "O-H-O-L." 

But the Oak Harbor Middle School sixth-grader had to tackle some monstrous words to fulfill her destiny as the region's best speller. She went toe-to-toe with her peers for hours, all of them hashing out words many adults couldn't even understand.   

"I can't believe it," Katelyn said later. "It was nerve-racking. I knew the words were only going to get harder."

Her never-ending, 49-round showdown with Woodmore Elementary sixth-grader Phoebe Jackson left moderator Jeanne Lawrence looking for words to use — any words.

"Get some water girls," Lawrence said during an unforgettable final round. "I'm running out of words up here."

The two girls went head-to-head for at least 30 minutes, correctly spelling words such as "oolong," "pangolin" and "bequeath."

When Phoebe ultimately stumbled on a word, it set up the win for Katelyn, who spelled alcohol correctly to secure her victory. 

As Katelyn took the crown and the trophy, Phoebe graciously congratulated her. Katelyn will compete in the state competition at Owens College.

The two girls were far from being the only bright students at the competition, which showcased 29 skilled spellers from 11 schools across the county.

Just about everyone made it through the first round, easily spelling words such as "different," "chocolate" and "measure." As the words grew more difficult, however, spellers started to drop.

Port Clinton Middle School was well-represented as both Conor Cadigan and Josiah Klein made it into the final five, an elite group that clearly separated itself from the others. Woodmore Elementary's Regan Draeger also made it into the final five.

The five students went several rounds before anyone misspelled a word.

The Port Clinton boys seemed unflappable, in fact, until Josiah was struck with a bad break: "muumuu," a loose Hawaiian dress.

Josiah only gave it two u's. 

Who'd have known?

With one Port Clinton boy down, Conor was still in the running to become a potential champion. He had already won the Port Clinton Schools spelling bee a few weeks ago.

He finished third, however, when he was knocked out by the word "karate."

Katelyn said her formula for success is simple: studying and lots of reading. She enjoys reading Christian fiction. 

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