Newark Middle School recently held the first leg of the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the school’s auditorium.
Eighth-grader Meagan Webster placed first after 17 rounds featuring 15 competitors in grades six through eight. Webster, whose contestant No. 1, won by spelling “Einstein.”
Eighth-grader Jalen Bel came in second place after she and Webster went 13 rounds. Seventh-grader Ayden Miller placed third.
Eighth-grade English language arts teacher Melissa Hager enunciated each word and read it in a sentence before each contestant was required to spell it.
“The competition was quite a battle with incredibly challenging words,” Hager said.
Webster and Bel will compete in the regional competition March 18 at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva. Miller will serve as an alternate for the regional competition. The winner will continue on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
NMS students in grades six through eight took a spelling test to qualify to participate in the spelling bee.
The other six contestants in the NMS Spelling Bee sixth-graders Nickolas Tumbelekis, Kellyn Pettine, Logan Wilson and Xiomara Coleman; seventh-graders Kaleigh Pettit, Adrian Rivera-Romero, Kylie Lewis and Deven Ferrell-Deutenberg; and eighth-graders Bradley VanDusen, Anna Renzi, Samantha Johnson and Matthew Harrison.
“I was incredibly proud of all 15 students last night as they represented NMS with perseverance, respect, integrity, dedication and excellence, or PRIDE,” Hager said. “I was also pleased to see so many family members and friends at the event encouraging our participants. Having strong support at home and school helps contribute to the strong characters of PRIDE these students displayed, which leads to success. I look forward to watching, supporting and encouraging our finalists as they compete at the regional bee.”
Word lists were provided by Scripps. The judges were Principal Teresa Prinzi, eighth-grade English language arts teacher Philip VanHarken and ELA and special education teacher Alisa Elder.
“The kids did an amazing job,” Prinzi said. “They showed a high level of perseverance as they worked their way through the rounds as the words were very challenging. They should be very proud of themselves.”