Winning words were marooned, helium and argyria
Judges threw the book at students, and students threw back a dictionary’s worth of lexicological knowledge at the Thompson School District Spelling Bee on Saturday.
Fifth grader Simone Rings of Loveland Classical Schools placed first in the elementary bee by correctly spelling “marooned” and “helium,” and eighth grader Tate Charboneau of Bill Reed Middle School topped the middle school bee by spelling “argyria.”
While the awards presented Saturday marked the end of the line for the elementary level spellers, the top six finishers in the middle school bee will go on to compete at the state level and in May could even make it to the big time — the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
Bee coordinator MaryPat Hayden-Davis said the words for both groups were taken from a list provided by Scripps.
Students took written tests the day of the bee to qualify for the contests, which were held at Mountain View High School. In total, 19 students qualified for the elementary level bee and 23 qualified for the middle school bee.
Qualifiers came up to the microphone one by one and were given their word by the judge, who let them know immediately if they had spelled it correctly.
While some students buried their faces in their hands after missing a word, most only grimaced and speedwalked to a row of chairs next to the stage where they waited to be dismissed.
Elementary students tackled words ranging from colloquialisms such as “hunky-dory” and “attagirl” to niche descriptors such as “diaphoresis,” “kurta” and “brevet.”
Simone, who finished third in the 2019 bee, won by correctly spelling “marooned” followed by the challenge word “helium.” Valentina Bartels of Big Thompson, who finished first last year, came in second, while Kate Ward of Ponderosa finished third.
Simone was immediately congratulated by her parents, Caroline and Jeff, after the win.
“I did study a little bit,” Simone said.
“She’s been studying her whole life,” her father said and laughed.
In the middle school bee, six emerged with a chance at state and Scripps.
Tate launched into first by correctly spelling “argyria” — a rare disease caused by exposure to the chemical element silver that can tint the skin gray or blue.
Following Tate, Ty Bakker of Bill Reed finished second, Kailey Sellers of Walt Clark third, Cayden Fone of Conrad Ball fourth, Cecilia Kotra of Loveland Classical fifth and Aidan Stricker of High Plains sixth.
The Thompson School District’s competition has been held for more than 20 years.
In 2019, the Denver Post reported that Colorado students have won the national bee seven times — in 1957, 1959, 1979, 1980, 1982, 1989 and 2002.