Seventh-grader defends regional spelling bee title, heads to national contest
Margaret, a home-schooled seventh-grader from Granger, successfully defended her South Bend Tribune Regional Spelling Bee championship on Thursday night at Bethel College.
It was her third win at the regional bee in four years.
"I would say there's a lot of luck involved. There were some words given that I didn't know," Margaret said. "It's a very hard spelling bee."
If she had any difficulty working through the bee's 13 rounds, it didn't show. Margaret easily dispatched words such as blitzkrieg, ersatz, gesundheit and zealotry. The championship word, laterigrade, which means a sideways movement, also proved no match.
"Mostly, I just know the booklet, 'Spell It,' that they give out. You just have to know that like the back of your hand," Margaret said. "That's one of the most important things. My mom reads news articles a lot so she writes down the business words from there so I use those, too."
Margaret's parents, Kate and Waylon, said they try to make spelling fun. It's something their daughter has embraced, Waylon Peterson said.
"The other way we study is we try to make it a lot of fun," he said. "A couple nights ago we had a spelling bee with just our family. Kate and Margaret, they study frequently. They go through words quite a bit.
"She enjoys it so it makes it a lot more fun for all of us. We have little postcards on our refrigerators with different words so every time you get a new word you haven't seen before you make a note of it."
With the win, Margaret heads back to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.
While Margaret is no stranger to either the national or the regional bee, it was the first appearance at the regional bee for runner-up Olivia Hajicek, a fifth-grader from Elkhart Home Educators. Olivia said she's hoping to make a return trip to the regional bee next year.
"I actually wasn't nervous coming in but when the bee actually started I got pretty nervous," Olivia said. "I'm very excited about how I finished. It was actually a lot of fun."
Staff writer Bob Blake: