On March 10, spellers, family members, and fans all gathered at Westville High School to watch the 2022 La Porte County Regional Spelling Bee. This year’s contestants were eager to compete for the grand prize of an all-expense-paid trip for the winner and one guardian to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., sponsored by Kankakee Valley REMC (KV REMC).
This year marks KV REMC’s 15th year of sponsoring the La Porte County Regional Spelling Bee. It is the mission of KV REMC to build community and strengthen it through education. Director of Marketing and Communications for KV REMC Amanda Steeb explained how sponsoring the La Porte County Regional Spelling Bee fits into the co-op’s values and how the sponsorship began.
“It is important to our organization that we support programs that provide opportunities for the youth in the community,” stated Steeb. “When we were approached to be a local sponsor for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, we saw this as one more way we could provide a unique and educational opportunity. We would provide a local student with a pathway to represent the community at a national competition through our sponsorship. It is an honor to be part of this program.”
Purchasing and Facilities Manager Dave Howell agreed that this event is a lot of fun to watch and be a part of every year.
“It’s for these kids. It’s their sporting event. It’s their Sectional. They really prepare for this, and it’s great to watch them excel at spelling,” said Howell.
Tonight’s bee was pronounced by Dr. Scott L. Simerlein and judged by Nick Kimmel and Abigail Kneifel. Dr. Simerlein began with his opening remarks and followed by reading the rules to the contestants. After the rules were explained and any questions had been asked, the bee began with a practice round. This gave the contestants an opportunity to get acclimated to the room and calm their nerves.
The bee was started by Wesley Cooper of Crichfield Elementary School, and the bee was ended by Cooper when he inevitably took first place. You could see the sheer confidence on Cooper’s face as he spelled the final word to win it all in La Porte County and head to D.C. for a chance to win nationally. Upon completion of his word, Cooper immediately ran into the bleachers to hug his grandmother in the stands. This kid was on top of the world. Despite only being in elementary school, Cooper kept it very professional in his post-game interview.
“It feels awesome,” said Cooper.
The last time Cooper was here, he, unfortunately, did not come out on top. Cooper said that the word that got him out of the bee last time, intellectual, was the hardest word he’s ever spelt. But, like all other champions, Cooper rose from tragedy to complete one of the greatest comebacks La Porte County has ever seen. In addition to a trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Cooper also received the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, a one-year subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica Online Premium, a one-year subscription to Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online, and a $150 cash prize donated by KV REMC. Cooper isn’t quite sure yet how he’ll spend his prize money.
The impact that the spelling bee continues to have on the community is unmeasurable. The La Porte County Regional Spelling Bee is a great way for children to compete and be involved in the community in a positive way.