The Thomas Jefferson Middle School Spell Bowl team captured its sixth straight Class 2 Spell Bowl State Championship on Saturday, Nov. 10, at Purdue University. The TJ spellers did not miss any words during the eight rounds of competition, and their final score of 72 was the state-high score.
Team members penned words such as viridescent, polypropylene, coup de grace, peripatetic, restaurateur, guyot, jodhpur, and ennui on their way to the first place medals. TJ contestants who spelled flawlessly and earned perfect round purple ribbons included Colin Thompson, Joe McMurtrey, Allison Skadberg, Abigail Pati, Joey Lavalley, Branton Kai, Marybeth Scheibel, and Olivia Rosario.
Cheering loudly 72 times were team members Rayna Johnson, Zoe Krenz, Hanah Lopez, Emily Poncher, Antonio Rosario, Nate Smith, Grace Tam, and Kate White. The team is coached by Linda Kemper and Jane Strayer.
When asked how she had benefited from her involvement with the Spell Bowl team, 3-year member and Team Captain Olivia Rosario responded, “ I learned to always say, ‘Excuse me’ when I had an eructation, and to always osculate my mother when I said, ‘Good bye. ‘ “It’s fun!” remarked Rayna Johnson, a 3-year member of the team, when asked why she has participated throughout her middle school career. First-year member Hannah Lopez enjoyed the 7 AM daily practices because, “the sentences were funny, and the coaches are GREAT!” Joey Lavalley, a 2-year speller, quipped, “I like to know that my life is ‘spelled’ out before me!”
Team TJ has brought home the state championship banner 9 out of the last 11 years, but this is the first time the team has scored a perfect round at both the Area qualifying meet and the State Championship competition.
Mr. Jim Polite, principal of TJMS, was on hand to present the championship banner, medals, and plaque to the winners. Coach Jane Strayer, whose birthday always falls around the time of the state meet, asks the team for a blue birthday present each year. The team promised her they would deliver, and they most emphatically did!
Photo: Front: Antonio Rosario, Colin Thompson, Zoe Krenz, Branton Kai, Nate Smith.
Row 2: Abigail Pati, Kate White, Marybeth Scheibel, Olivia Rosario, Hannah Lopez.
Row 3: Joey Lavalley, Emily Poncher, Allison Skadberg, Malika Saxena.
Row 4: Joe McMurtrey, Coach Linda Kemper, Principal Jim Polite, Coach Jane Strayer, Rayna Johnson, Grace Tam.