Eighth-grader wins U.P. spelling finals

Annabelle Besonen is pictured. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

NEGAUNEE — Annabelle Besonen’s nerves didn’t prevent her from winning the Upper Peninsula Community Education Association Spelling Bee Finals on Thursday at Negaunee High School.

Besonen, who lives in Trout Creek and is an eighth-grader at Watersmeet Township Schools, won after successfully spelling “fossiliferous” and then “clairvoyance.”

Besonen went back and forth with runner-up Carrie Hoolsema of Rudyard Area Schools before finally earning the victory. Third place went to Christopher Kiekhaefer of St. Mary’s Catholic School in Sault Ste. Marie while Emma Dube of Holy Spirit Central School in Norway finished fourth.

The “Final Four” were asked to spell words such as commemorative, ultimo, paragram and tiffin.

They also had the option of asking the definition of a word or to have it used in a sentence to help them along. For example, tiffin is a midday meal.

“I was nervous the whole time,” Besonen said.

She gave a nod to the second-place finisher, who challenged her up to the very end.

“I would have been happy if she would have won too, but I’m excited I get to go to Washington, D.C. for the first time,” Besonen said.

She acknowledged having to study a lot for the competition, but spelling already had been in her mind.

“Sometimes I’ll think of the word in my head and then I’ll spell it,” Besonen said.

Besonen won round-trip transportation for her and a parent to attend the national event in May, six nights lodging and a stipend to help defray costs of meals and other expenses.

Her prizes also included a one-year membership to Encyclopedia Britannica online and a Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

The second- and third-place finishers each received a Valerie’s Spelling Bee Supplement and a $25 Amazon gift card, while the fourth-place finisher won an $25 Amazon gift card.

Bill Hartman, community school director for the Ishpeming-Negaunee-NICE Community Schools, said the event began earlier with building-level competitions. Those winners moved on to district- and regional-level competitions before taking part in Thursday’s U.P. final.

Hartman, who said the event has been going on for about 40 years, said the students are given an extensive word list they have to memorize.

One that list is completed in the competition, they move on to a “stump list” the students don’t see.

Those words are difficult.

However, Hartman said, “There’s also some words that are quite easy that they’re not used to studying or can’t remember, and it just kind of fools them.”

Regardless of how far they go in the competition, participants could come away with added knowledge, and that doesn’t necessarily have to do with words.

“It teaches them some self-discipline to study these words and share it with their classmates, and get along with their classmates,” Hartman said. “The big thing too that we emphasize is everybody’s a winner when you get here, and it’s just incredible.

“It teaches them, like I said, the self-discipline to work hard and respect your students and help each other.”

Other students participating in the day’s competition before the Final Four students took to the stage were: fifth grade — Emma Besonen, Ewen-Trout Creek School; Izzie Cangemi, Sandy Knoll Elementary School, Marquette; Maya Carlson, St. Francis de Sales, Manistique; Granger Desormeau, Sault Ste. Marie Area Public Schools; Hannah Hyrkas, CLK Schools, Calumet; Nicole Kerkela, Negaunee Middle School; Sam Lamirand and Janessa Miskovich, Breitung Township Schools, Kingsford; Drayden Preaseau and Benjamin Stage, North Central Area Schools, Powers; Madeline Ranta, Ironwood Area Schools; Jayden Veltkamp, Emerald Elementary School, Manistique; and Anna Wu, Houghton Elementary School.

Sixth grade — Kevin Baker, Manistique Middle School; Silas Bohl and Seppi Camilli, Bothwell Middle School, Marquette; Jeremiah Clark, Rudyard Area Schools; Stephen Dresch, Lake Linden Schools; Emily Dums, Wakefield-Marenisco School, Zoey Haanpaa, Breitung Township Schools; Ava Kusnier, St Francis de Sales School; Jaidyn Lattergrass, North Central Area Schools; Sarah Lauzon, Ironwood Area Schools; Brian Li, Sault Ste. Marie Area Public Schools; Cassandra Shepard, Bark River-Harris Schools, Harris; and Carter Worm, CLK Schools.

Seventh grade — Mikayla Aldrich, Manistique Middle School; Christopher Burie, Breitung Township Schools; Kiersten Ferguson, Ewen-Trout Creek School; Austin Hoolsema, Breitung Township Schools; Anthony Junek, North Central Area Schools; Jericho Marcell, West Iron County Schools, Iron River; Sheila McDonald, CLK Schools; Celeste Morgan, Gwinn Area Community Schools; Cecelia Ong, Houghton Middle School; Delaney Parks, Bothwell Middle School; Kayden Street, Carney-Nadeau Schools, Carney; Linnea Way, St. Francis de Sales School; and Wynston Zellner, Breitung Township Schools.

Eighth grade — Luma Alaraje, Houghton Middle School; Miranda Allen, Rudyard Area Schools; Dawson Brand, North Central Area Schools; Morgan Carilli, Negaunee Middle School; Shawn Gibbons, L’Anse Area Schools; Charles Henry, Bothwell Middle School; Kayleigh Hopper, Brimley Schools; Peyton Johnson, Breitung Township Schools; Maddy Maline and Kelsey Muth, Manistique Middle School; Emily Robinette, Bark River-Harris Schools; Amelia Siodlak, Central Middle School, Iron Mountain; and Mason Starkey, West Iron County Schools.