‘Tis the season for spelling


By Dawn Hatfield

DARKE COUNTY — This time of year is well-known for many joyous holidays, but did you realize it is also spelling bee season? Over the past several weeks, local schools have been holding competitions to see who shall ‘coalesce’ as the best spellers across Darke County.

A brother-sister duo emerged as two of the top spellers at Greenville Middle School, Claire Miller-Castaño, earning second place in the fourth- through sixth-grade competition, and older brother, Adrian Miller-Castaño, ranking third in the seventh- through eighth-grade contest.

Claire explained how she became a contestant, “The process for being selected was the entire ELA homeroom taking a spelling test on paper and the people who got the most right and were the best got selected to participate in the fourth- through sixth-grade spelling bee.”

Adrian added, “We were called to talk about the spelling bee and get lists of rules and words about a week after.”

During competition, Adrian recalls, “They said a word, and we walked up and spelled it out. If we got it right, we sat back down, but if not, we sat on a couch on the left of the library.”

“At first I was nervous when sitting in the spelling bee, but then I got more confident over time. I was surprised I got in the top winners and am grateful,” recounted Claire.

Adrian didn’t share his sister’s anxiety but was surprised by the outcome. He said, “I didn’t think I’d do well but I was really happy when I saw there were just two other people sitting in the chairs. It felt good, I wasn’t nervous or scared, not like the other spelling bees. I was happy I got a top spot but also kind of frustrated because I knew how to spell my word; I just said the wrong thing.”

One might think the duo spent hours studying together to prepare for the competition, but, instead, Claire credits mental imagery and reading. “I think it was just my ability to use logic when spelling a word and keeping an image of that word in my mind when I see it in a book. Yeah, I think it was reading. I like reading sci-fi, fantasy, and mythology chapter books.”

For other would-be spelling champs, Adrian suggests, “Make sure you study and try your best. Maybe take a look at weird spelling rules and you will learn how to spell more things. You could also check how something’s spelled if you’re not sure instead of just letting it be.”

Claire added, “My advice for [students] is to study spelling words whenever they can, maybe right before bed or in their free time.”

April Hoying provided details on the 2022 competition, “Darke County Spelling Bee will be held at Romer’s Catering on Jan. 20, 2022. The county spelling bee is sponsored by the Darke County Educational Service Center. In order to participate in the county spelling bee, students must be the runner-up or champion speller from each school bee.”

Congratulations to all the school spelling bee winners. Below are the champions and runners-up who will participate in the Darke County Spelling Bee next month:

Ansonia Elementary — Brett Widener and Brayden Kocher; Ansonia Junior High — Olivia Schmitmeyer and Michael Shook; Arcanum Elementary — Joshua Vance and Beau Barga; Arcanum Middle School — Hunter Eley and Camdon Pfahler; Bradford Elementary — Jack York and Eli Harris; Bradford Junior High — Aleah York and Lance Miller; Franklin Monroe Elementary — Preston Cottrell and Mason Imhoff; Franklin Monroe Junior High — Sydney Baker and Ella Smith; Greenville Middle School (4-6) — Landrey Huffman and Claire Miller-Castaño; Greenville Middle School (7-8) — Kindyl Peltz and Sienna Gilman; Mississinawa Valley Elementary — Kaylie Miller and Theron Douglass; Mississinawa Valley Junior High — Allyson Waymire and Xavier Pacheco; Tri-Village Elementary — Hailey Lovett and Raider Cela; Tri-Village Junior High — Randy Tharp and Zoe Ayette; Versailles Elementary — Charlie Bergman and Easton Dirksen; Versailles Middle School — Corynne Goubeaux and Katey Litten.

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