Homer Alaska - Schools

Story last updated at 1:43 PM on Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Russell takes second in spelling bee

By McKibben Jackinsky

Staff writer

This wasn't Audrey Russell's first spelling bee, but it was her best. Audrey, the daughter of Amy and Revelle Russell of Homer and a seventh-grade student at Homer Middle School, took second-place in the state spelling bee held at the Discovery Theatre in Anchorage on March 8.

Last year, Audrey went as far as fifth place; the year before that she made it to 15th.

"She's been studying for this for three years. It's her favorite sport," said Amy Russell.

It's all about learning new words, said Audrey. Not just spelling the words, but learning the definitions and using them to expand her vocabulary.

"I'm pretty good at it, too," said Audrey, whose poem, "A Story of a Shadow," received honorable mention in the seventh- through ninth-grade poetry category of the 20th annual Kenai Peninsula Writers' Contest in February.

To prepare for the spelling bee, Audrey found online a list of words to study, printed them out and had her parents quiz her.

The spelling bee began at 9 a.m., with 140 spellers from around the state competing. Breaks were given the spellers as they went round after round. Audrey was given a total of 11 words, including such spelling challenges at "witticism" and "riant." It was "therapeutant" that caused the Homer speller to stumble.

First-place went to Taia Fagerstrom, a seventh-grader at Teeland Middle School in Wasilla, for correctly spelling "megahertz." The third-place medal went to Charlize Sidro, a fifth-grader at Willow Crest Elementary School in Anchorage.

"That thing was a barn-burner," said Amy Russell. "It lasted until 6 p.m."

As an eighth-grader next year, Audrey will have another opportunity to set her sights on the spelling bee. Will we find her name in the headlines again?

"Hopefully," she said.

On Saturday, Audrey was back in Homer and one of 123 skiers to compete in the Homer Marathon. She placed 17th of 38 women in the 25K tour/race, finishing in a time of 3:44:30.

"We don't know where she came from," said a laughing Amy Russell of her daughter's many interests.

McKibben Jackinsky can be reached at mckibben.jackinsky@homernews.com.