In a battle of the brains (b-r-a-i-n-s, brains) Chippewa Falls Middle School students went head-to-head with the dictionary Thursday morning for the school round of the Scripp’s National Spelling Bee.

After beating their peers in nine team rounds, 27 sixth through eighth grade students spelled words like produced, entrepreneurs, incessant, maline and fluorescent for the chance to be crowned spelling champion of their school.

Thursday’s best speller after eight rounds was sixth grade student Alex Barrett, followed by eighth grade student Keondric Risinger. Barrett won when he correctly spelled the word conundrum.

Barrett and Risinger will move onto a regional competition in Thorp on Feb. 20, where the winner of that bee moves onto the state level. The state winner will represent Wisconsin at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, organizer and eighth grade English teacher Stephanie Schemberger said.

Schemberger was joined by fellow organizer and seventh grade English teacher Sara Carlson.

Participating in the bee, Schemberger said, helps kids apply the topics they learn in class, like the origins and parts of individual words. Plus, she said, many find it enjoyable.

“Kids love the competition,” Schemberger said.

Participating in his third bee was Conrad Ledebuhr of the town of Eagle Point. Ledebuhr, an eighth grade student, said he participates in the annual competition because he passes the test and he’s smart. Furthermore, reading and writing are enjoyable for Ledebuhr, so the bee is a natural competition for him.

In past years, Ledebuhr has survived into the third round of spelling, but he was hopeful for a first-place finish Thursday.

While his Achilles heel in the spelling world is the word entrepreneur, Ledebuhr encouraged other spelling hopefuls to try participating in a spelling bee.

“You can’t screw up that bad,” Ledebuhr reassured his peers.


(1) comment


"Battle of the brains" is not that accurate. "Battle of the memories" would be better. Because our spelling is so dysfunctional we ar (sic) able to hold spelling bees, which reward memorizing abilities.

But the disorderly spelling is an unnecessary hurdle for young literacy learners, most of whom take two or three years mor than, say, young Estonians, to master literacy. The Estonians ar expected to be reading confidently at the end of grade 1. They hav a regular, predictable spelling system. We need one, too.

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