Gresham holds first spelling bee in 20+ years

Fiona Hoffman advances to regional event

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Gresham Community School eighth-grade student Fiona Hoffman reacts to the news that spelling the word “algae” made her the school’s first spelling bee champion in more than 20 years. Hoffman will compete in the regional bee in Bonduel on Feb. 13.

Gresham Community School will have its first representative at the regional spelling bee in more than 20 years after eighth-grade student Fiona Hoffman won the school’s bee Friday.

Hoffman beat 53 other students from grades 4-8 by correctly spelling “partridge” and “algae” in the final round. She will go on to the regional bee at Bonduel High School on Feb. 13.

“It’s amazing,” Hoffman said after the bee. “I’m really excited. I’m so happy.”

Hoffman was surprised to learn she would be the first Gresham student at the regional bee in a long time. She said she spent a couple of hours per night studying words in preparation for the school competition.

“I’m nervously excited,” Hoffman said.

If Hoffman is sick or otherwise unable to compete at the regional bee, fifth-grade student Coral Cook will go in her place.

Gresham’s competition alternated between spelling and vocabulary rounds. After one of each, the 54 competitors had been whittled to 18.

Deb Truyman, Gresham’s spelling bee coordinator, felt that things went fairly smoothly, considering the school had not hosted a bee in years.

“We think it went well. We were just processing it,” Truyman said. “I’m hoping next year we can get more enthusiasm from the junior high kids.”

The school bee was open to any student who wanted to compete. Most of the competitors were in the fourth and fifth grades, but Truyman believes those students will want to continue to compete again each year as they get older.

Truyman credited Newell Haffner, the school’s principal/superintendent, with encouraging the staff to get students involved in spelling bees again.

“I think he’s open to more academic activities. Give sports equal time but get into the academics,” Truyman said.