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‘Orthopedic’ clinches spelling crown for NES-5th grader


Last updated 12/15/2017 at Noon

Courtesy Photo Niwot elementary fifth-grader Greta Stauch, right, a member of Mrs. LaFaye’s class, won last week’s school Spelling Bee by correctly spelling ‘orthopedic.’ Roland Pridgen, left, a member of Ms. Burke’s class, was runner-up.

Weeks of rigorous memorization drills paid off for Niwot Elementary fifth-grader Greta Stauch last week when she claimed first place in the school’s annual spelling bee. Stauch correctly spelled ‘orthopedic’ to claim victory in the 12th round, after her lone remaining competitor, fellow fifth-grader Roland Pridgen, stumbled on ‘endeavor.’

“My dad was watching me when Roland was spelling his word,” said Stauch, who survived three rounds of written elimination tests before the final verbal round. “He was spelling ‘endeavor’, but he started with an ‘i’, and I was like ‘Oh my gosh! He spelled it wrong!’ And Dad told me after that I looked pretty excited.”

It was the third bee for the aspiring actress/USWNT soccer player, but her first appearance in the finals. She was one of twelve spellers to make it to the verbal round, whittled down from the initial pool of contestants comprising all third, fourth, and fifth graders at NES.

Stauch said the victory was easier than expected, and credited her mom and a strict five-days-per-week practice regimen for helping her to learn the hundreds of words on the study list, including obscure and foreign entries, such as cicerone and têtê-à-têtê. “It wasn’t really that hard. It was just lots of practicing,” Stauch said.

Making his second appearance in the finals, runner-up Pridgen survived two close-calls in the earlier rounds, first after he was asked to spell the unfamiliar ‘dragoon’ and then after he misheard the word ‘craggy,’ and was allowed to attempt a second word.

“Since I’d never heard of the word [dragoon] before, and they try to give you a lot of tricky, hard words, I thought it would be some complicated mixture of weird words,” he said. “But I just went with the easiest way to spell it and got it right.”

Third-place finisher Audrey Haller, another finals veteran, was tripped up on ‘subterranean’ in the 10th round. After a sixth-place finish as a fourth-grader, she was nervous when she realized that she was among the top three this year. “I was scared, personally. I felt like I was going to fail in front of the entire school.”

However, the fifth-grader was less disappointed in her third-place finish than she was by the bee’s brisk pace. With at least one contestant eliminated in each round, this year’s 12-round bee was a sprint compared to last year’s 32-round marathon.

“I wanted it to last forever,” Haller said. “And I wanted them both to win.”

Stauch will represent Niwot at the Barnes & Noble Regional Spelling Bee in February 2018, where she will be competing for a chance to advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., next spring.

She will also potentially be competing against older brother Henry, who is a former NES Bee champ, and a hopeful in this year’s upcoming middle school contest. So far, Stauch has no plans to change her preparation strategy for the upcoming Regional, sibling rivalry or not.

“All you have to do is study the list,” she said, adding that the expanded regional list includes Arabic, Latin, and Old English words. “I’m going to prepare the same as I did for this one. Memorize all the words.”


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