Eighth grader Abbi Gillespie, at left, and seventh grader Josie Koenigs are two of Chatfield’s spelling bee winners. Not shown is fifth grader Carly Backen, who took first place.
GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Eighth grader Abbi Gillespie, at left, and seventh grader Josie Koenigs are two of Chatfield’s spelling bee winners. Not shown is fifth grader Carly Backen, who took first place. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS

Word to the winners — success doesn’t need to be spelled out for them.

“I don’t like, love to do it all the time, but I don’t hate it either,” said Chatfield High School seventh grader Josie Koenigs, speaking of spelling words for entertainment and for the district’s annual spelling bee.

Koenigs earned second place and eighth grader Abbi Gillespie earned a place as alternate to the regional spelling bee slated for Feb. 13.

Koenigs and Gillespie know they have smarts — they were confident enough that they’d correctly spell the words included in the placement test that was given to determine the potential spelling bee participants — but they were a little nervous about standing before a crowd of teachers, family members and friends who had come to hear them compete against the rest of the participants, including first place winner and fifth grader Carly Backen. (See her story in the Jan. 24 issue of the Chatfield News.)

Koenigs recounted, “I studied the week before, and I didn’t really expect to get placed. I was nervous before we got started, but once we got started, I was fine. I was surprised I placed, though.”

Gillespie added, “Spelling is just something that comes kind of easy to me. I don’t feel any particular way about it. I read a lot, I like to write, and I studied just a little, like the day before. I’m not really too nervous about it — I kind of block out everything else — but it gets harder and there’s more at stake as we got the words. Most of them, you could sound out, but there were some words that I’d never heard of…if you just listen to them, you could spell them. Both my parents came, and my brother got out of class.”

Gillespie will proceed to the regional bee if either Koenigs or Backen is unable to attend, but in the meantime, she’s thinking about running with the cross-country team and finding another good book to read. “It would be exciting to go to the regional bee, but in the meantime, I’ll just do other things like play basketball, and right now, I’m president of the middle school student council,” she said.

Koenigs has begun studying for the regional bee, and that means that she received a very long list of words to practice spelling.

“I got a huge list of words to study, and there’s the word of origin, too. There are a lot of different languages in there. Some of the words looked really hard,” she explained. “I’m excited, I’m nervous, terrified to be at the regional bee, but my parents were excited (about the win).”

If either Backen or Koenigs earns a place at the regional spelling bee, it’s on to the next level, after which the winner is sent to Washington, D.C., for the national Scripps spelling bee. No matter the outcome, Koenigs is confident she’ll do well in just about anything she takes on…there’s more science and math to be conquered, after all.