Basehor-Linwood students the Bee’s knees for spelling in Leavenworth County
If there’s a secret to success in a spelling bee, the stories of two Basehor-area champions spell out a good guess at what it might be: R-E-A-D-I-N-G, and lots of it.
Calder Hollond and Aly Levinson, two Basehor-Linwood Middle School students, took the top two spots in the Leavenworth County Spelling Bee in Leavenworth this past weekend, earning both of them a trip to a regional spelling bee in Great Bend in March. From there, they could win a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in June.
Hollond, a sixth-grader who won first place, and Levinson, who is in eighth grade and took second, both said much of their spelling success was the result of a healthy reading habit.
Calder’s mother, Anne Hollond, said that during study sessions at home, Calder would often recall seeing words on her study list in a book she had read — many of them on the pages telling the story of a certain boy wizard.
“A lot of them, she’d say, ‘Oh, that was in Harry Potter,’ ” Anne said.
And Levinson remembered that, while growing up, when other children would want to watch TV or play video games, she was always reading.
“While I was eating,” she said of how often she would have her head in a book. “Almost while I was sleeping.”
The other BLMS student competing at the county bee, seventh-grader Lauren Cline, took fifth place, meaning the final rounds of the competition were strongly colored with the purple and gold of the Bulldogs. Three of the contest’s 38 competitors were from BLMS, and they all landed in the top five.
Hollond and Levinson will now move on to the Great Bend Tribune Sunflower Spelling Bee in Great Bend on March 12, one of three regional spelling bees in Kansas. The winner of that bee is eligible for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in June.
Hollond and Levinson battled head-to-head for 10 rounds to conclude the contest, said Marilyn Michalls, a retired teacher in the Basehor-Linwood School District who organized the bee for the Leavenworth Area Retired School Personnel Association.
Hollond won the crown when she correctly spelled “synopsis,” a word she said she knew and understood: “Kind of a brief summary of something,” she said.
Levinson said that final 10-round showdown was a test for her nerves.
“The hardest part about spelling is just standing up, getting your nerves together, wondering what word they’re going to ask you,” she said, and when only two competitors remain, those moments come in rapid succession.
Both students, though, said they were calmed by the fact that, no matter what happened, two BLMS students would get to make the trip to Great Bend.
Hollond said she knew most of the words that came up during the bee from her reading and regular study session with her mom, though one word early on gave her some trouble.
“‘Masquerade’ kind of tripped me up for a bit,” she said.
Anne Hollond, who majored in classics during college, said she had helped Calder learn some Latin and Greek, which give her a knowledge of word roots that can be helpful with spelling.
Levinson said she had studied about an hour a day leading up to the county bee, using a list of about 300 words provided to the students before the competition.
“When you know a word, it gives you a lot of confidence,” she said. “My dad says it’s like having a test, but you are given all the answers on a list. The trick is just memorizing them.”