At the district spelling bee held at Helen M. Knight Intermediate School on Tuesday afternoon, Feb. 19, Park, outlasted 17 other challengers, including fellow sixth-grader Mary Kimmerle, who finished in second place after missing the word “prodigal” in the 37th round.
Following Kimmerle’s misspelled word, Park correctly spelled “influenza” to win the round. He then had to spell one more word correctly to earn the first-place trophy. That word was “macadamia,” as in the tasty Australian nut. Park got it right, thereby ending one of the longest local spelling bee competitions any of the judges or observers could remember, according to HMK teacher Charlotte Quigley.
The contest’s 18 participants consisted of the top six finalists in each of the school’s three highest grades (four through six), after qualifying class-level spelling bees were held last month, Quigley said.
Finishing in third place overall was Kevin Park, Teddy’s twin brother. Kevin Park, who finished second to his brother last year, missed the word “restaurant” in the 23rd round this time, leaving Kimmerle and Teddy Park to go head-to-head for 14 more intense rounds.
According to Quigley, the various words spelled correctly by Teddy Park or Kimmerle during the last portion of the contest included “sentient,” “persistent,” “societal,” “apostate,” and “salubrious.”
The event was attended by the competitors’ classmates and teachers, as well as numerous family members and friends. Peggy Harty served as the event’s pronouncer, while Beth Joseph and Annie Larsen were the judges.
The top three HMK spellers will advance to compete at the regional spelling bee, which will be held at Grand County High School on Tuesday, March 19, at 1 p.m.
The regional bee will feature the top spellers from schools throughout southeastern Utah. The winner of that event will advance to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., at the end of May.