Consecrate, subjugate, ethanol, ubiquitous and contiguous.
Those are just a few of the words Emma Steimle was able to spell correctly, helping her win the first-place trophy at the Douglas County Spelling Bee on Saturday.
“When I spelled a word, I was really nervous,” Emma said. “I studied a lot. My mom printed off tons and tons of lists, and we practiced them.”
Emma is an eighth-grader at West Middle School. She prepared for the event by studying a list of words she found on the Scripps National Spelling Bee website. She has been preparing for the event since the sixth grade. Back then, she had made it as a finalist in the Douglas County Spelling Bee, becoming one of the last 10 students standing until she was knocked out of the contest by misspelling “anachronism.” She remembers the word that sent her home clearly.
And the word that kept her from coming to the Douglas County Spelling Bee the year after — “inoculate” — is indelibly imprinted in her memory, too.
But instead of sending her home, the word she’ll remember this year — “propinquity” — earned her a spot in the regional championship in Topeka.
Milo Schoenen, who earned second place, will also participate in the regional spelling bee. A sixth-grader at Southwest Middle School, Milo spelled “acolyte” and “susceptible” correctly in the final two rounds.
“I like to read, but I didn’t really study,” Milo said. “I just sort of remember how words are spelled.”
Milo attributes a lot of luck to his placement in the spelling bee, saying there were a few rounds where he happened to get good words he was familiar with. But now that he is going to the regional event March 3 in Topeka, he says he will probably do some studying.
The spelling bee lasted 14 rounds, and by the last few rounds many spellers were fatigued but excited, stifling yawns, stretching arms and wiping sweaty palms onto slacks and dresses. Thirty-one students competed.
“Everyone competing here today are already the top spellers of the whole county,” said Adrian Jacobs, the coordinator for this year’s spelling bee. “I know a couple of kids were up there today had temperatures (but still participated). … The kids are really passionate about their spelling.”