7th-grader wins county spelling bee

As it turned out, Hannah Funk had the necessary information stored in her brain to win the 2011 Marion County Spelling Bee last week.

But it took a g-i-g-a-b-y-t-e to get it done.

The Hillsboro Middle School seventh-grader correctly spelled the Digital Age unit of measurement to earn first place in the competition involving 20 spellers from fifth through seventh grade who were representing the county?s five school districts.

?I had heard of the word, but I?m not a computer person, so I was just kind of guessing,? Hannah said.

When her spelling of the word was ratified, she said one of her first thoughts was, ?Where?s Great Bend??

As the winner, Hannah, daughter of Merlin and Penni Funk, will represent Marion County at the Great Bend Tribune?s Sunflower Spelling Bee March 12 at Barton County Community College.

?I went home and looked it up on the map,? she said.

It took seven rounds and 48 words to establish the champion in this year?s competition, which played out last Wednesday on center stage at the Marion High School Center for Performing Arts.

?The bee went smooth, but fast,? said Rod Garman, Marion Elementary School principal who served as event moderator.

With a couple of dozen parents and school administrators looking on, five spellers returned to their seat after missing a word in the first round and 10 more followed suit in Round 2, leaving five to carry on.

The bee?s three finalists emerged in Round 3 when Aaron Woelk of Goessel Junior High missed ?rhombus? and Sierra Applegate of Peabody-Burns Junior High misspelled ?ultramarine.?

That left Hannah to duel it out with Justin Bina of Centre Junior High and Taylor Helmer, a fifth-grader from Hillsboro Elementary.

When Taylor missed ?despicable? in Round 4, Hannah and Justin stood alone as the sole survivors. Both made it through the fifth round when Justin aced ?literacy? and Hannah came through on ?yeti.?

Round 6 turned decisive when Justin missed ?peripheral? while Hannah was perfect on ?legalese.? To be crowned champion, Hannah was required to spell her next word correctly?and she did.

Garman said the event gives students the opportunity to shine who might otherwise not get the chance.

?I think it?s a great opportunity for kids because it?s academic-related,? Garman said. ?I just think healthy competition is good for kids. Any time we can do anything that promotes students and their success, I?m all for it.?

Contestants for the event were selected through local bees at the elementary and middle or junior high schools of each district. The top two spellers from each school qualified to compete, with the third-place finisher serving as an alternate.

This year?s contestants were:

? Marion Elementary: Jarrett Johnson and Lindsey Sigel. Lindsay competed in the absence of MES winner Victoria Smith.

? Hillsboro Elementary: Brodie Rathbone and Taylor Helmer. Abby Driggers was the alternate.

? Goessel Elementary: Layci Froese and Leah Booton. Julia Nightengale was the alternate.

? Centre Middle: Claiborn Schmidt and Landen Crane. Tyson Chizek was the alternate.

? Peabody Elementary: Kaury Stout and Raegen Schreiber. Bailey Penner was the alternate.

? Marion Middle: Elizabeth Meyer and Bailey Robson. Austin Hacker was the alternate.

? Hillsboro Middle: Hannah Funk and Lanna Wagner. Shelley Arnold was the alternate.

? Goessel Junior High: Zach Wiens and Aaron Woelk. Erin Brubaker was the alternate.

? Centre Junior High: Dakota Stimpson and Justin Bina. Courtney Hett was the alternate.

? Peabody-Burns Junior High: Sierra Applegate and Cheyenn West, who competed in the absence of PBJHS winner Mary Burgdoff.

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