Archive for Thursday, February 8, 2007

Spelling bee winner prompts questions about her home

February 8, 2007

— Leavenworth County's new spelling bee champ credits her spelling prowess to a lot of practicing and reading.

Molly Oberstein-Allen, 13, jumped up and down after clinching the title Friday afternoon, Feb. 2, by spelling "possession" and "precarious."

"I read a lot, but I don't like nonfiction," Molly said.

Winning the Leavenworth County Spelling Bee also earned Molly a $100 U.S. savings bond, a plaque, a medal, bragging rights and a trip to the Topeka Capital-Journal State-Wide Spelling Bee on March 24 at Washburn Rural High School, Topeka.

But many audience members were trying to reconcile how Molly, an eighth-grader at Hyman Brand Hebrew Academy and a Johnson County resident, was eligible to claim the title.

Molly's mother, Donna Oberstein, said her daughter entered the bee after receiving the go-ahead from Priscilla LoPresti, bee chairwoman.

Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath, prohibits students from participating in extracurricular activities on Saturdays, Oberstein explained. That's why Molly didn't enter the Johnson County Spelling Bee, on Feb. 24 in Gardner.

The win put LoPresti in a precarious position. She was swarmed by reporters and parents after the contest.

"I surveyed some of my helpers and I went with the majority," she said. "The majority said, 'Let her come. We are doing it for the kids.'"

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