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District winners to compete in Las Vegas spelling bee

Carly Nystrom, an eighth-grader at Bethlehem Lutheran School, may not have known the definition of a warbonnet, but she knew how to spell it.

However, a misplaced letter in “arrestee” allowed her opponent, Gabrielle Gallegos of Eagle Valley Middle School, to claim victory in the district spelling bee Monday evening.

Students from Eagle Valley and Bethlehem Lutheran held school spelling bees last week and the winners faced off Monday night for the chance to compete in the state spelling bee March 3 in Las Vegas. Home schooler Joseph Schwedhelm also competed in the seventh-grade competition.



Ardis Jacobsen, the language arts chairwoman at Eagle Valley Middle School, coordinated the bee. She said it has been many years since the district has held a spelling bee but that spelling is an important art.

“To me, spelling is ironically becoming more important because of the Internet,” Jacobsen said. “We’re coming back to the written word being important. If it’s in writing, you want it to be right.”



There were tense moments when students tossed the words around in their minds, hoping that, once they opened their mouths, the letters would roll off in the correct order.

“I’m actually relieved that it’s over,” said Gabrielle. “I studied a lot.”

But the students weren’t the only ones feeling the pressure.

“It’s very nerve-wracking,” said Ed Gansberg, after watching his son, Joshua Gansberg of Bethlehem Lutheran, win the sixth-grade competition. “I tried not to look at him – I didn’t want to give it away or mislead him.”

As Jenny Lau claimed the seventh-grade victory by correctly spelling, “simile,” her mother could only assume that her daughter had won the bee.

Jenny’s mom speaks only Cantonese and Jenny has learned English as a second language in school.

“I really like reading so I learn words,” Jenny said to explain how she became a champion speller.

Joshua was surprised at his victory.

“I didn’t know what to expect,” he said. “I didn’t expect to win.”

Contestants and winners of the bee:

Sixth grade:

Joshua Gansberg, Bethlehem Lutheran School – winner

Lexy Eich, Eagle Valley Middle School

Seventh grade:

Jenny Lau, Eagle Valley Middle School – winner

Jared Case, Bethlehem Lutheran School

Joseph Schwedhelm, home school

Eighth grade:

Gabrielle Gallegos, Eagle Valley Middle School – winner

Carly Nystrom, Bethlehem Lutheran School


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