Fourth time's a charm for spelling bee champ

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Superintendent Bill Crandall called out the words, warning each competitor if a word had a "near homonym." Students walked to the podium — some so small they needed to stand on their tiptoes to reach the microphone.

"This word could be confused with a similar word, 'bulletin,'" Crandall said carefully.

"Could you please use it in a sentence?" asked Harper Powell, a sixth-grader at Two Harbors.

"The school board issued a bulletin that due to extreme cold weather, school would be cancelled," Crandall read.

"B-u-l-l-e-t-i-n. Bulletin," she responded.

"Correct," Crandall replied.

Students from Minnehaha Elementary School, William Kelley Schools and Two Harbors filled the stage to demonstrate their spelling skills during the annual Lake Superior School District Spelling Bee on Monday, Jan. 8, in the Two Harbors High School auditorium. The judges were Minnehaha Principal Brett Archer, LSSD Board member Tom Byrnes and Carol Youngberg of North Shore Federal Credit Union.

Classes and parents filled the auditorium with applause to congratulate students when they spelled words correctly or to console them as they exited the stage after a near miss.

In the end, WKS eighth-grader Tor Soderstrom edged out Two Harbors eighth-grader Ben Johnson to win the spelling bee on his fourth try with the word "propaganda."

"I felt less nervous this year because I've done it so many times," Tor said.

"Propaganda," however, wasn't the most difficult word Tor had to spell in the contest, he said. That honor belongs to "piece de resistance" — the most notable feature of a meal or in a series of events.

"What's really strange is I got it wrong on my spelling test," Tor said. "I really studied the words hard this week to fix it, though."

Tor and Ben each received a Nook e-reader for their performance. They will be joined by Two Harbors seventh-grader Adrianna Hietala and WKS sixth-grader Avery DeBonis at the regional spelling bee Feb. 8 in Mountain Iron.