Janesville students face trips and triumphs at annual spelling bee

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Wednesday, October 12, 2011
— Spelling bees are like life. They are not fair.

The kid before you gets to spell “karate” or “hyphen,” and you are stuck with something you’ve never heard before, like “sortie” or “borzoi.”

Or the pronouncer, who is only following the official pronunciation guide, pronounces “wasabi” as WASS-uh-bee, not Wuh-SAH-bee.

Maybe you figure it out. Maybe you don’t.

Kids must guess through words they’ve never heard or seen before.

Olivia Palmer of Marshall Middle School won the Janesville Spelling Bee on Tuesday, fighting her way through words such as “mahatma.”

“Could you use it in a sentence? … Definition?” asked a hopeful Olivia.

Pronouncer Renee Wolters read the sentence. And the definition. Olivia’s face told the story: That was no help at all.

So Olivia gave it her best and released a sigh when Wolters told her she got it right.

Olivia wasn’t the only one of the 39 children who went through that scenario as parents watched, some biting their lips.

“Yesssss!” said one boy softly when he learned he had guessed correctly.

Others guessed wrong on “zinnia,” “eponym,” “nougat,” “virgule” and “witloof.”

Janesville public schools Superintendent Karen Schulte had welcomed the spellers, who were from schools public and private, grades 5-8, throughout the city.

“I wanted to make sure I didn’t say ‘good luck.’ This isn’t about luck,” Schulte said. “You all have worked hard to get here.”

Schulte had a point. They all proved themselves at their schools’ bees. They had fought off fear and shyness, and they probably all had read a lot of books, becoming familiar with words they would never hear on the street, at home or even in school.

Ian Lindloff of St. Matthew’s Lutheran School nailed unfamiliar words such as “satori,” “virgule” and “gourami” to secure second place.”

“Nerve-wracking,” was how Ian described it.

Ian is the son of Phyllis and David Lindloff. Olivia’s parents are Jill and Dr. Mat Palmer.

Reading was the common denominator for Olivia and Ian, both 12 years old.

Ian said he reads all kinds of books. Olivia likes fantasies, especially stories about dragons. She likes to write as well and wants to be a writer.

The first-place prize includes a bicycle. That was fortuitous for Olivia, whose own bike’s handlebars are broken.

Asked by a reporter to spell “fortuitous,” Olivia wasn’t sure but gave it a try.

She got it right.


Winners of the 2011 Janesville Spelling Bee and their prizes are:

First—Olivia Palmer, seventh-grader at Marshall Middle School, a $100 U.S. Savings Bond and a bicycle from Michael’s Cycles of Janesville. The traveling trophy goes to her school.

Second—Ian Lindloff, seventh grade at St. Matthew’s Lutheran School, $100 bond.

Third—Bree Porter, eighth grade at Edison Middle School, $75 bond.

Fourth—Shianna Villalvir, fifth grade at Jackson Elementary School, $50 bond.

Fifth—Matthew Gibes, sixth grade at Edison Middle School, $50 bond.

Sixth—Anthony Cervantes, sixth grade at Franklin Middle School, $50 bond.

Seventh—Colten Carlson, eighth grade at Franklin Middle School, $50 bond.

Eighth—Savannah Zimmerman, fifth grade at Monroe Elementary School, $50 bond.

The top four finishers qualify for the regional bee, to be held at Milton High School at a date yet to be determined.

The savings bonds were courtesy of the Gazette, which co-sponsors the bee with the Janesville School District.

Last updated: 6:45 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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