On Thursday, March 16, students from all over La Porte County came together at South Central Junior-Senior High School to put their spelling skills to the test during the La Porte County Regional Spelling Bee. Many of the students competed passionately for the first place prize of an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, sponsored by Kankakee Valley (KV) REMC, while others just had a fun time challenging their abilities. Overall, it was an exciting, unforgettable opportunity for all.
This year’s event was the 16th spelling bee KV REMC has sponsored in La Porte County. Supporting students and their academics has always been a mission KV REMC takes to heart.
“Kankakee Valley REMC has always been involved with youth programs. Providing academic opportunities for students not only fits into our mission, but it is at the core of how we support the community. While we can’t send every student to Washington, D.C., supporting the Scripps National Spelling Bee is giving students in LaPorte County a chance that they might not have had otherwise,” said Amanda Steeb, director of marketing and communication for KV REMC.
Out of all the events KV REMC supports, though, the spelling bee is a favorite. The spellers’ passion and drive are enough to get anyone excited.
“This has always been a fun thing to sponsor because, for the kids who do spelling bees, this is their sport. They work really hard all year long for this. Most of the kids here tonight started their journey with this particular bee before Christmas,” said Steeb.
Nerves hung in the air as the spelling bee got started, but Dr. Scott L. Simerlein, the event’s pronouncer, did his best to set the students at ease. By the end of the practice round, the spellers were warmed up and ready to go.
“We’re fortunate to have Dr. Simerlein as our pronouncer. He has a lot of experience with Spelling Bees, as he was the LaPorte County Spelling Bee winner and advanced to Scripps National Spelling Bee, as a student. He understands first hand the jitters and nervousness that the students are experiencing tonight,” said Steeb.
The competition was intense—the kids were in it to win it—but 13 rounds and 113 words later, the spelling bee had its finalists. First place went to Wesley Cooper of Kesling Intermediate School, second place went to Nicholas Oss of La Porte Middle School, and third place went to Wyatt Oberle of Westville Middle/High School.
The La Porte County Regional Spelling Bee is always an exciting affair, but what made this year’s bee extra exciting was the winner, Cooper. Cooper also won last year’s bee, so to come in first again and get the chance to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee once more was incredibly special. Cooper immediately ran to his family for hugs.
“It feels pretty good—I didn’t think I was going to win twice. I’m excited to get to go back; it was really awesome,” said Cooper, smiling ear to ear.
Cooper wasn’t the only one exhilarated by the night’s event. Oss was equally thrilled to take part in such a meaningful experience and was already making plans for next year’s bee.
“This is pretty exciting. I’ve been in spelling bees all my life from third grade on so it’s a bit surreal being here and getting second place. I’m going to practice and compete again next year,” said Oss.
The La Porte County Regional Spelling Bee was ultimately a wonderful opportunity for students to push themselves and get involved in their academics in an exciting way. Whether a speller got out in the first round or made it to the finals they all did amazing and will no doubt continue to grow from the experience for years to come.
“To make it to this level of competition is a huge accomplishment for each student. Participating in a spelling bee is a valuable way for each student to demonstrate and be recognized for their academic excellence. We are very proud of each of them and their dedication,” said Steeb.
To learn more about Kankakee Valley REMC and its commitment to our community’s children, visit https://www.kvremc.com/.