After she and her opponents dealt with words like "formaldehyde" and "auspices," seventh-grader Erin Kempka correctly spelled "celiac" to be declared the winner of the Pequot Lakes District Spelling Bee.

Kempka outlasted 14 other participants from fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades to take the title Friday, Jan. 26. Her opponents were eliminated on a variety of English words, including "putrification," "lichenous," "interstices" and "xylorimba."

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Fifth-grader Madeleine Hoag was the runner-up. She engaged in a seven-round spell-off with eighth-grader Lola Eastwood to determine the runner-up, ultimately spelling "martingale" correctly to receive the honor.

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Before the competition to name a district champion, spelling bee officials conducted a grade-level contest to determine the champion in each grade. Lake Rowland was named champion among fifth-graders and Ryan Fritz claimed the sixth-grade title. Tyler Hushagen was named the seventh-grade champion while Annika Schlagel was the winner among eighth-graders.

Other words contestants were asked to spell included "expatiated," "vicissitudes," chandelier," "truculently" and "nebulosity."

"Raise your hand if you were asked to spell a word you have never heard before," spelling bee pronouncer and language arts teacher Karen Rubado asked the participants after the event. Nearly every contestant raised a hand.

Kempka and Hoag will move on to compete at the Regional Lakes Bee and received Amazon book vouchers for $75 and $50, respectively. The four grade-level winners were awarded $25 vouchers.

Other contestants were: fifth-graders Autumn Hecker and Corissa Kerger; sixth-graders Betsy Boyda, Gus Hoefs and Maeve Rohr; seventh-grader Lucas Taylor; and eighth-graders Emma Johnson and Blake Ringstrom. Seventh-grader Myra Neumann qualified for the event but was absent from school and eighth-grader Julia Stahnke was an alternate.