by Diane Craig
The morning air may have been C.O.L.D but inside the auditorium at Orcas Island Christian School, the competition was H.E.A.T.I.N.G up as the 10th annual island Regional Spelling Bee was underway.
Proud parents, supportive staff and enthusiastic students gathered to cheer on 27 elementary and middle school students, grades four through eight, on Feb. 5. Each student received a word and the option of asking for a definition and its use in a sentence. Students who answered correctly progressed to the next round. A small glass bell rang if the answer was incorrect.
The annual event is coordinated with the Orcas Island Public Library. This year’s judges were Orcas Island Elementary principal Lorena Stankevich, OCS principal Terry Pottle; children’s librarian Jenny DeGroot; and Nita Couchman who recently retired from the library. Holly King, the library’s youth and outreach coordinator, moderated.
After 14 rounds, it ended up a tough battle between fourth-graders Hazel McKenzie (Orcas Island Elementary) and Elijah Griffith (OICS), seventh-grader Milana Schneider (Orcas Island Middle school) and OICS eighth-grader Nicholas Rivera.
However, the correct spelling of the word “kelpies” gave Rivera the win. In addition to adding his name to the spelling bee plaque, he also received a Kindle, possession of the winner’s trophy for a year and, of course, bragging rights.
With this win under his belt, Rivera joins two other finalists, McKenzie and Schneider, at the Skagit County Regional Spelling Bee on March 23 in Mount Vernon. The event is open to the public.