Area students take part in spelling bee

Seppi Camilli, a sixth-grade student at Bothwell Middle School, participates in Tuesday’s Scripps Spelling Bee at Kaufman Auditorium. The divisional competition featured young spellers from Marquette Area Public Schools. The boy finished second in his age category. (Photo by Corey Kelly)

MARQUETTE — It might not be “advisable” to write an overly long “narrative” on a “roadrunner.”

But if you were one of the participants in Tuesday’s Scripps Spelling Bee held at Kaufman Auditorium, at least you probably knew how to spell those words.

Sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade students from Bothwell Middle School as well as fifth-graders from Graveraet, Sandy Knoll, Superior Hills and Cherry Creek elementary schools took part in the district competition, which was sponsored by Marquette Area Public Schools and the Upper Peninsula Community Education Association.

For Charles Henry, who took the top spot in the eighth-grade division, it was a way to practice spelling, which he enjoys.

“It’s a good challenge,” Henry said.

In the final twosome, Henry went back and forth with runner-up Hannah Ruuska, finally winning with the word “hymnal.”

Delaney Parks was the top speller among the seventh-graders, followed by Matt Scovronski.

Silas Bohl took first place in the sixth-grade division, with Seppi Camilli taking second.

Isabelle (Izzie) Cangemi won the fifth-grade division while Tyler Jensen finished second.

The district event marked the second round of competition for MAPS students, with 10 fifth-graders and eight students each in grades 6-8 already having won classroom spelling contests.

Tracy VanAbel, an administrative assistant for Northern Michigan University Housing, served as moderator.

“It’s good to learn how to work with other kids — a little bit of competition, learning how to be a good winner,” she said.

The top two finishers in each grade will go on to the Alger-Marquette regional competition scheduled for Feb. 17 at Republic-Michigamme Schools. The Upper Peninsula finals are set for March 13 in Negaunee.

Word lists were compiled following the format used by state and national spelling bees. Each list was to be mailed about a week before the deadline of the previous competition level to allow each contestant an equal amount of time to study the list.

“Stump word” lists, however, were strictly confidential and not to be shown to any student.

The participants not only had to correctly spell words, they had do demonstrate a certain amount of poise by stating their names and schools for the audience and — which probably was harder — deal with misspelling a word in front of people in a sportsmanlike way.

After all, if they misspelled a word because they heard a wrong tense of the word, it still was counted as a miss.

It helped, though, when students requested a word be used in a sentence or asked for clarification.

For instance, seventh-grader Lucas Taylor was asked to spell “flesh.”

“As in human flesh?” he asked.

Taylor then correctly spelled the word.

Judges for Tuesday’s event were Robert Mercure, a former principal in the Wakefield-Marenisco School District and a Marquette Senior High School graduate, and Kristen Peterson, literary coach and education consultant at the Marquette-Alger Regional Educational Service Agency.

Tesse Sayen, who provides curriculum support for MAPS and is an assistant for the MAPS Education Foundation, also was involved in the spelling bee.

Other eighth-grade contestants were: Romy Kus, Lamb Ngafeeson, Meghan MacPhee, Johnny Braamse, Andy Bullard and Jonah Smith.

Participating from grade 7 were: Morgan Buck, Jack Bishop, Anna Rayhorn, Eli Lusk and Canyon Medina.

Grade 6 participants included: Ruth Tippett, Teddy Hoff, Carmen Bruce, Bella Coleman, Iris Allen and Autumn Gouldman.

Grade 5 contestants were: Hayden Schetter, Reya Ghiardi, Lydia Barber, Mercedes DesJardins, Makenna Smith, Elizabeth Brady, Trent Sadler and Nicholas Lyons.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is