Eighth Grader Shocks Herself in Winning Spelling Bee
Outlasts field of 30; advances to Sectional.
The third time really was a charm for Samantha Miller.
The eighth grader came to the brink of elimination twice in the School of St. Mary’s spelling bee on Feb. 1.
However, when sixth grader M.J. Finnegan missed in spelling the word, lackadaisical, after Miller had correctly spelled, anthropology, she ended the dramatics with the word, orthographize.
The winner has to spell a second word correctly in order to be named the champion. A miss starts a whole new round.
“I didn’t know how to spell it,” Miller said when she heard the word. “I sounded it out in my head.”
When she pronounced the word after spelling it, her voice rose as if to ask, ‘is that right?’
When the judges replied in the affirmative, Miller still couldn’t believe it.
“I was shocked,” she said. “I didn’t think I got the final word right.”
Miller will join Lake Bluff Middle School seventh grader Kalia Thomas and Deer Path Middle School sixth grader Alec Brown at the Lake County Sectional at 6:30 p.m. Feb. 23 at South Park School, 1421 Hackberry Road, in Deerfield, for the chance to compete for the Lake County championship, set for March 16 at the College of Lake County.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee, featuring the top speller from each state, will be held June 1-2 in Washington, D.C.
Miller didn’t even qualify for last year’s all-school spelling bee. Thirty students earned a spot in the school finals after winning the spelling bees conducted in their classrooms.
“I was surprised to make it out of my classroom,” Miller said.
But she managed to survive nine rounds before finally winning. Finnegan had a chance to end the competition after the fifth and sixth rounds, but was unable to spell the words, zigzagedness and supplicate, correctly.
The rest of the 30 finalists, by grade, included:
Fourth grade: Audrey Mullarkey, Tommy Hanson, Scotty Pippen (alternate), Michael Pasquella, William Rylance, Jack Hallee (alternate), Kevin Halloran, John Terosian and Katherine Hodgdon (alternate).
Fifth grade: Cailey Hiam, Jack Pasquella, Max Hayes (alternate), Isabell Mancini, Riley Burns, Bettina Urdaneta (alternate), Matthew DiValerio, Grace Scheidler, and Alma Vedra (alternate).
Sixth grade: Michael Finnegan, Christian Braun, Brendan Eckland (alternate), Vanessa Deubler, Luc Foster, Ian Thauer (alternate), Thomas Olson, Elliot Hangos, and Ben Thomasma (alternate).
Seventh grade: Carly Kutschke, Thomas Pichetti, Robert Jelcz (alternate), Jack Kelner, Jack Landis, Isabel Das (alternate), Noah Conley, Garrett Hull, and Curtis Bogner (alternate).
Eighth grade: Laura Blake, Sarah Geldermann, D. J. Melsheimer (alternate), Meghan Olson, Luke Adams, Michael Christiansen (alternate), Katie Hanson, Sam Miller, and Kathleen Rock (alternate).