The 42nd annual Douglas County Spelling Bee will start promptly at 10 a.m. on April 13 at Hucrest Elementary School in Roseburg.
Twenty-one fifth through eighth graders will compete for the title of Douglas County Spelling Bee champion.
The winner will receive a laptop, thumb drive, printer, neoprene sleeve for the laptop, wireless mouse and family membership to Wildlife Safari in Winston.
In years past, the bee was held at Wildlife Safari, but renovations at the park prompted the competition to be moved to the school. Wildlife Safari continues to be a sponsor of the event and organizers, are still trying to figure out whether there will be animals present.
The second-, third-, and fourth-place finishers will receive Amazon Fire tablets and Amazon gift cards. All participants will receive their district trophies, and the top-four finishers will also receive county trophies.
“It’s always very impressive how composed they are, and you can tell they’ve been practicing,” said Becca Weaver, the Douglas County Spelling Bee coordinator.
Last year’s champion Marin Gray, who won by spelling “sabotage,” is now a freshman at Roseburg High School.
Roseburg Public Schools will have the most competitors with nine. They are: Zeke Fouse of Eastwood Elementary School, Emylie Moore of Fir Grove Elementary School, Olivia Kobernik of Fremont Middle School, Gabe Simmons and Logan Burnett of Jo Lane Middle School, Kaia Pinsondumm of Hucrest Elementary School, Danielle Mihevc of Green Elementary School, Lauralye Ericks of Sunnyslope Elementary School, and Jeshurun Kumar of Winchester Elementary School.
Gabe previously qualified for the Douglas County Spelling Bee when he was in fifth grade and is eager to return to the stage.
“I learned to just go by what you feel, you don’t have to think about it too much,” he said, adding that he has been practicing the lists of words during study hall at school each day and sometimes practices at home.
Weaver, who will also be the master of ceremonies, said the spelling bee has been a family affair for the four years she has been involved.
“The families buy into the importance,” she said. “It’s a huge part of why (the competitors) are successful.”
Three competitors are representing the South Umpqua School District: Aaliya McKay and Mary Vargas from Tri City Elementary School, and Hurrsh Misttry of Coffenberry Middle School. Kyra Light is the Riddle Elementary School student who made it to the county spelling bee.
Winston-Dillard School District is represented by Daizy Gehrke, Christopher Herrera-Nunez and Lilly Marlow, although it was not reported what schools they were from.
Macy Mornarich will represent Glide Middle School and Noah Eichenbusch is there for Glide Elementary School.
Sutherlin School District’s Teghan Riley of Sutherlin Middle School and Annabelle Cook of Sutherlin West Primary will also be at the competition.
Emily Hamlin is the only homeschool student in the competition.
“It’s heartbreaking to hear the bell go off,” Weaver said. “I try to comfort them because they’ve won at their school, won at their district and they should be proud of what they’ve done.”
Gabe said he struggled with a few words in practice, including making sure to put the “i” in the right spot in the word “unanimous.”
“I just say to practice as much as you can,” Gabe said with a little more than a week left to practice on Thursday. “I have the beginning of the packet done and I’m just going to hope for the best.”
It will be the final year Umpqua Community College associate professor Jillanne Michell, who is the pronouncer for the event.