• Students compete in county spelling bee

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  • Katie Peterson | Staff Writer
    Thirty-four students representing 18 area schools — the top spellers in fifth through eighth grade — competed in the Leavenworth Area Retired School Personnel Association’s 58th annual Leavenworth County Spelling Bee Feb. 2 at Eagles Lodge No. 55 in Leavenworth.
    Following the Sunflower Spelling Bee rules, the bee lasted two practice rounds and eight regular rounds after Pleasant Ridge Middle School eighth-grader Loralai Kruid correctly spelled “bonsai” and “eureka” after second-place winner Elisabeth Johnson, eighth-grader at Lansing Middle School misspelled “susceptible” in the final round. Kruid and Johnson will both go on to compete in the state spelling bee March 3 in Hays, Kan.
    Lansing Middle School eighth-grader Niklas Schintgen and Tonganoxie Middle School eighth-grader Kalia Fountaine tied for third place after they were both eliminated in round six after misspelling “amphibious” and “eiderdown” respectively.
    The Leavenworth Times, the LARSPA and the Kiwanas Club provided the awards for the first-, second- and third-place winners, and more than 20 local businesses provided items for goodie bags for the contestants.
    “Quite a group of community people are helping support this,” said LARSPA President Gerald Carder. “I couldn’t imagine this being done without these people being involved.”
    Eight students from Fort Leavenworth schools qualified for the county spelling bee after coming out on top at their school spelling bees in December. Fifth-grader Aoife Schoof and sixth-grader Benjamin Soyka represented Bradley Elementary School; fifth-grader Sara Strawn and sixth-grader, name withheld, represented Eisenhower Elementary School; fifth-grader Alisi Solaita and sixth-grader Melanie Libby represented MacArthur Elementary School; and seventh-grader Madeline Gee and eighth-grader Sahra Smallwood represented Patton Junior High School.
    Melanie , who qualified last year as a fifth-grader, said she was nervous, but that competing the previous year helped her prepare.
    “I’m happy I’m doing it, but really nervous about how I will do in it,” she said before the bee. “It’s a lot more relaxing knowing what’s expected and what’s going to happen. Last year was so confusing how they had it.”
    Melanie’s mother, Anita Libby, said she was proud of her daughter for qualifying for the county bee a second time.
    “I’m very proud,” Libby said. “Her dad, unfortunately, is at work, but he’s definitely proud, too.”
    Melanie correctly spelled “composure” in round one, but was eliminated in round two after misspelling “futon.”
    First-time contestant, Aoife said she was nervous but excited. Schoof was eliminated in the first round after she misspelled “excruciating.”
    Benjamin’s parents, Mike and Sarah Soyka agreed that the bee was a great learning experience for their son.
    Page 2 of 2 - “I think it’s not just the spelling that’s important,” Mike Soyka said. “It’s the fact that he’s learning a lot of new words as he goes. Being able to express yourself and be precise in language is useful no matter whether it’s written or spoken. So, it helps both I think.”
    “It’s not just teaching spelling,” said Sarah Soyka. “It’s teaching them self-confidence and patience and how to do something under pressure.”
    Mike Soyka said he and his wife were happy for their son.
    “We’re excited for him. I think it’s a really cool opportunity for him to try something a little bit difficult and learn some things in the process,” he said. “He’s excited and nervous like all these kids.”
    Benjamin made it to round five correctly spelling “linoleum,” “cauliflower,” “refugee,” and “omnipotent” before misspelling “piccolo.” Benjamin tied for fourth with Sahra, — third place winner in the 2017 county spelling bee — who correctly spelled “succulent,” “retrospective,” “abdicate,” and “impasse” before misspelling “bowery,” and Eisenhower sixth-grader, name withheld, who correctly spelled “memorandum,” “karma,” “spherical” and “macadamia” before misspelling “umlaut.” Other Fort Leavenworth participants — Sara misspelled “impeccable” in round one; Madeline misspelled “workmanship” in round one; and Alisi correctly spelled “reservoir” in round one before misspelling “bungalow” in round two.
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