Weather Forecast


Sunnyside student going to state spelling bee

Spelling has long been 10-year-old Carlie Christensen's strong suit and now it's taking her all the way to the state spelling bee.

The daughter of Gale and Jody Christensen of Ellsworth will represent the Ellsworth School District at the event at Monona High School in Madison on Saturday, March 17, her mother said Thursday. In preparation, she's reading a study book she got at the regional spelling bee, going through a study guide available on a computer internet web site, responding to flash cards and the like.

"Until now, she hasn't done any preparing (for the spelling bees she's been in)," Mrs. Christensen said, admitting potential success depends somewhat on familiarity with the words contestants are given to spell anyway.

The Sunnyside Elementary School student has a knack for spelling, her mom said, remembering she could spell "orthodontist" at age three. She's able to sound out words phonetically and has otherwise excelled academically, having skipped a grade.

For the local spelling bee, each class nominates a student to participate, Mrs. Christensen explained. Her daughter experienced her first bee last year, finishing in third place.

This year, the youngster was nominated again and took first place, her mom said. She correctly spelled two words in a row, "procrastinate" and "intimidation," for the victory.

Advancing to the regional bee in Baldwin, the local contestant was eliminated on the word "nodule," her mother said, noting she managed a third place finish anyway.

"I think she misunderstood the pronunciation," she said.

Christensen was the youngest of 18 participants there, including five fifth graders and eight eighth graders, her mother said. Normally, a third place finish wouldn't allow a contestant to advance, but because the second place finisher is unable to attend the Madison event, she gets to go.

Mrs. Christensen said she'll try to keep prospects for winning among some tough competition in perspective for her excited daughter. Howard Burfeind, Ellsworth Middle School staffer who coordinates the local spelling bee, told her he knows of no one from here in the past 28 years advancing as far in the event as her daughter, she said. She also found it interesting the second and third place local finishers last year were from Sunnyside, while the first and second this year were from Sunnyside and Lindgren, the smallest schools in the district and up for closing. Despite her 10-year-old's spelling talent, she thinks smaller classes help.

Her youngster's favorite subject in school isn't one readily associated with spelling, however.

"Math is my favorite, then English," the student said last week after coming indoors from some recreation during a snowstorm and a round of play station action. Also at home on the snow day were her two brothers, Curtis, age 16, and Carter, six.

Knowing how to spell helps her in other subjects, she agreed. The hardest word she's ever had to spell was "deltiology," the definition of which she said she didn't know.

Her upcoming journey to the state spelling bee will be one of two trips for competition she takes this month, her mom said. The goalie will join her hockey team when players head for a state tournament in Milwaukee this coming week.

Meantime, the young competitor was disappointed about not being able to go out with her teammates to celebrate her 10th birthday Thursday, as their practice was canceled due to the storm. They'd planned to get together over a pizza afterward, she said. Still, she was looking forward to her mom fixing her favorite meal that evening, a dish featuring small pieces of steak and cut-up potatoes.

She didn't give the word for it.