Just in case anyone wondered -- everyone was a winner.
At Friday's spelling bee, held at Tonganoxie Elementary School, 16 students, all the top spellers in their fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade classes, gathered for the local competition.
"We have 16 winners here today," TES Principal Jerry Daskoski told the students before the spelling bee began. "You've already won -- no matter what happens today."
And, he noted, while the top three winners of Friday's competition would take home trophies, everyone would get a prize -- coupons for a meal at Sonic.
A collective and resounding "Yummmmmm" was the students' reaction to this news.
Daskoski spent about a half-hour talking to the students, who sat on chairs grouped in a circle in one of the school's modular classrooms. In his typical commanding, yet soothing, voice, Daskoski explained how the spelling bee would work, who would go on to compete at the Leavenworth County meet, and even ran the students through a practice session.
The actual spelling bee began with Hannah Kemp correctly spelling the word, "feud." And it ended about 20 minutes later with sixth-grader Kelsey Dunning correctly spelling the word, "thigh," and then, "valley."
Fourth-grader Jake Tannahill stepped out of the ring just before Kelsey, only after misspelling the word, "thigh."
And coming in at third place was sixth-grader Nancy Rounda. The three -- Kelsey, Jake and Nancy -- proudly accepted their trophies.
Because the county spelling bee is only for students in fifth through eighth grades, Jake, who took second place, will not participate in the county bee.
TES representatives at the county bee will be Kelsey, who placed first overall, and Rachel Wood, who did not place in Friday's bee, but was the top fifth-grader.
Tonganoxie Junior High School students T.J. Dohle and Haley Field, winners of last week's competition held at TJHS, also will represent Tonganoxie in the county spelling bee.
The public is invited to attend the county spelling bee, set for 1 p.m. Feb. 4, at the American Legion Post, 418 Cherokee Street, Leavenworth. The bee is sponsored by Leavenworth Area Retired School Personnel Association.
A league of their own
Also on the spelling bandwagon are these TJHS students who will participate at the Kaw Valley League spelling meet:
- Eighth graders T.J. Dohle, Josh Hendrix, Ben Field and Marissa Daniel, with alternates Michelle Baker and Kari Ohler.
- Seventh graders Haley Field, Carissa Nott, Dalton Torneden and Sarah Swaim, with alternates Austin Baragary and Dane Gonser.
Back at the grade school's spelling bee -- before it began -- Daskoski gave advice that the winners will likely remember when they head to the county's bee.
"Everybody but one person in here is going to misspell a word," Daskoski said. "And so if you misspell a word, don't worry."
The challenge inherent in spelling competitions is that sometimes it's harder to spell a word if you can't write it down. And, once an incorrect letter is spoken, however briefly, it can't be taken back.
"So you want to think first," Daskoski said.
The grade school's top winner, Kelsey, isn't the only child in her family who participated in the spelling bee. Her twin brother, Joel, also made it to the top 16.
Kelsey, who readily admitted she didn't study for the spelling bee, has always made A's in spelling.
"I thought it wasn't really as hard as I'd thought it would be," Kelsey said.
But she plans to hit the books to prepare for the county's spelling bee.
"I'm like really nervous about it," she said, giggling.
And, she's glad she had the chance to participate in the local spelling bee.
"I thought it was a good experience," Kelsey said. "I just thought it was a really fun experience."