Three Douglas spellers advance to state competition |

Three Douglas spellers advance to state competition

by Sarah Hauck
CVMS student Griffin Lewis correctly spells 'circumvent' to win the 6th grade competition Wednesday.
Brad Coman |

While both seventh-grader Nalani Schultz and eighth-grader Francesca Melander have both won the Douglas County District Spelling Bee before, it was a new experience for sixth-grader Griffin Lewis.

The three first-place finishers from sixth, seventh and eighth grades will travel to Las Vegas on March 5 for the state competition.

“I am still kind of terrified at the thought of the whole thing,” Griffin of Carson Valley Middle School student said. “I just want to get as far as I can.”

Griffin was one of more than 30 middle school students who competed in the Scripps Spelling Bee competition Wednesday at Carson Valley Middle School.

Francesca goes to Pau-Wa-Lu Middle School. Nalani is a Carson Valley Middle School student.

“The Douglas kids always tend to do well competitively against areas like Las Vegas” District Education Services Director Rommy Cronin said. “The state bee represents every kind of school from private to home school and it is nice that we will have some public school students there that qualified for us. I am so glad we are able to offer the public school kids these opportunities in education.”

It took three back-and-forth rounds for Griffin to win with the word “circumvent.”

For the last week he has been studying and practicing for the competition.

“I practiced a lot, a least an hour a day,” he said. “I looked over the words a lot, and then had one of my parents test me, so that I could really get the words into my head.”

Even with the help from his parents and countless hours of studying, Griffin was nervous, a common feeling Cronin said.

“I get so nervous for them,” she said. “Some of them, when they miss their word, I know they know how to spell it, they just get nervous and get into a hurry.”

Having a microphone, two judges and a room full of his peers and their supporters were not the only things that Griffin said made him nervous.

Knowing that the next step was participating in the state level added to his trepidation.

“It was terrifying,” he said. “I would think I knew how to spell a word, but when I get up there and start spelling it, and get nervous and suddenly forget.”

Providing Douglas County students with the opportunity to compete in district, state and potentially even the national level, is something Cronin is proud that the district orchestrates each year.

“I love that we get to celebrate our students, especially something academic,” she said. “That we get to offer this to our students is very impressive of the district. This is something fun that brings the parents in to honor the kids and academics.”

Grace Christian Academy’s Daniel Taylor won the state contest and went to the national competition last year.