Roosevelt 8th-grader digs into spellers' tool chest to win TH bee

Bryan Keck, 2015 and 2016 Regional Spelling Bee Champion, speaks Saturday
during the 30th annual Telegraph Herald Regional Spelling Bee at
Clarke University in Dubuque

Haebin Han acknowledged there were a few words that temporarily tripped her up during the 30th annual Telegraph Herald Regional Spelling Bee.

The word “crescive,” which means “marked by spontaneous development,” provided a particularly stiff challenge in the 10th round.

But Haebin, an eighth-grader at Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School, dipped into the spellers’ tool chest to deliver the right answer.

“Knowing the root of origin helped me, because I know whether the ‘s’ and ‘c’ should go together or the double ‘s,’” she said, adding, “and then having (the pronouncer) repeat the word ... that helped, too.”

Haebin won the competition by accurately spelling the word “enatic” in the 12th round. With her victory, Han will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The bee will be held May 28 to June 3 in National Harbor, Md.

Held at Jansen Music Hall at Clarke University, Saturday morning’s bee featured 27 top spellers who advanced from sectional bees. The competition included spellers in fourth through eighth grades.

Moments before the bee, two-time defending champion and Hempstead High School freshman Bryan Keck offered words of encouragement.

Keck recalled the nervous anticipation he felt before competing in past bees.

“It feels like just yesterday I was sitting in these very chairs with a nervous stomach and sweaty palms,” he said. “If that is how you feel, just know it is incredibly normal.”

While Keck won the 2015 and 2016 competitions, his speech focused primarily on the first time he reached the regional spelling bee as a fifth-grader.

In that bee, Keck misspelled “hickory” and was the first eliminated from the competition. He made it back to the regional competition as a seventh- and eighth-grade student at Roosevelt, each time advancing to the national bee.

Keck encouraged all spellers to keep trying, no matter the end result.

“My first experience did not deter me from trying to reach my dreams,” he said.

This year’s winner, Han, said she did the majority of her pre-bee studying by herself.

“(My parents’) second language is English, so it is hard for them to pronounce the words,” she said.

Twelve students successfully completed the first four rounds and nine spellers remained alive after nine rounds. Six spellers were eliminated in round 10, resulting in a six-way tie for fourth place.

The final 10 competitors were girls. Haebin was joined in the top three by Carver Elementary School fifth-grader Shreya Ravada and Irving Elementary School fourth-grader Saanvi Ram.

Four competitors were eliminated in the first round, with the words “hibachi,” “muumuu,” “animosity,” and “kahuna” knocking them from contention.

Saanvi was eliminated on the word “octopod,” while Shreya was eliminated on “gigabyte.”

Shreya said she gained confidence with each word she spelled correctly.

“I was a bit nervous at first,” she said. “But as it went on, I gained courage.”

Saanvi also admitted experiencing moments of anxiety. She identified “uvula,” the flesh that hangs at the back of a person’s throat, as the most difficult word she accurately spelled.

Moments after the competition came to an end, Saanvi said she hopes to be back.

“I think I will probably give it a try next year,” she said.

Haebin Han, an eighth-grader from Eleanor Rossevelt Middle School, spells a word Saturday
during the 30th annual Telegraph Herald Regional Spelling Bee.
Han won the bee, held at Clarke University.


TH Media
Source: Telegraph Herald
Dubuque, IA
Story: JEFF MONTGOMERY Date: 03/4/2017

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