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PR-B 8th grader headed to Scripps National Spelling Bee

Nesika Bellville won the 2022 Regional Spelling Bee Wednesday, March 23, at Sourcewell in Staples.

Students at a Spelling Bee
Nesika Bellville, center, is embraced by sister Sequoia and mom Andra Dionne after winning the 2022 Regional Spelling Bee Wednesday, March 23, 2022, at Sourcewell in Staples. Bellville will represent Pine River-Backus at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch
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STAPLES — Nesika Bellville is going to Washington.

It may be the apex of the charismatic eighth grader’s middle school career, a cumbersome process turned into an exciting shindig that could not have been engineered better and is without equivalent.

The Pine River-Backus student from Longville took first place in the 2022 Regional Spelling Bee Wednesday, March 23, at Sourcewell in Staples. Beating out 16 other competitors from the five-county region of Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena, Bellville will go on to compete on behalf of Sourcewell and her school at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in May.

“I feel excited,” Bellville said when asked her thoughts right after winning. “This is what I was actually hoping would happen, but that’s probably what everyone else thought, too, on their behalf.”

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The regional competition was Bellville’s second spelling bee ever. The first was the middle school bee she won in Pine River-Backus last month. But a lack of experience was no match for the eighth grader, who spent much of her time during distance learning over the past couple years studying words with mom Andra Dionne and playing online word games.

“I had my mom read words off of the words of the champions PDF, and we wrote down the ones that I got wrong so that I could practice them using vocabulary.com,” Bellville said.

After completing various activities on vocabulary.com last year, Bellville made it to the No. 1 spot on the website’s worldwide leaderboard twice.

Bellville exuded confidence throughout all 11 rounds, even when given a word that wasn’t quite a word. Bellville was given “emancitory,” which she spelled before judges corrected themselves, noting the word should have been “emancipatory.” She instead tackled “matriculation,” a word she happened to practice earlier that day.

After second-place finisher Brekkin Glazier, a sixth grader from Pequot Lakes, got tripped up by “antithesis,” Bellville conquered “charismatic” for the win.

Students at a Spelling Bee
Brekkin Glazier, a sixth grader from Pequot Lakes, spells a word during the 2022 Regional Spelling Bee Wednesday, March 23, 2022, at Sourcewell in Staples. Glazier placed second in the spelling bee.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

The other words she correctly spelled throughout the rounds were: apex, shindig, coffee, engineer, hostile, cumbersome, upbraid, piety, equivalent and binomial.

Mom, dad Mike and sister Sequoia enveloped Bellville in a hug after her victory, expressions of pride beaming from their faces.

The realization of what it meant to represent her school in the nation’s capital didn’t set in right away, but once Bellville fully understood the weight of her accomplishment and her forthcoming trip to Washington, she excitedly exclaimed: “Oh, cool! Then that’s good.”

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Students at a Spelling Bee
Greta Alajoki, a seventh grader from Menagha, spells a word during the 2022 Regional Spelling Bee Wednesday, March 23, 2022, at Sourcewell in Staples. Alajoki placed third in the spelling bee.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

Glazier mastered “terrarium,” “gluttonous” and “conundrum” on his way to second place, while third-place finisher Greta Alajoki, a seventh grader from Menahga who won last year’s Regional Spelling Bee, took on “perceptible,” “perpetrator” and “telepathic” before faltering on “portentous.”

A couple pauses came throughout the day, the first after Round 2 when Royalton seventh grader Ashton Keith was reinstated into the bee after judges listened to a playback and realized they misheard his spelling of “astonish,” which they deemed to be correct after the review.

Students at a Spelling Bee
Ashton Keith, a seventh grader from Royalton, spells a word during the 2022 Regional Spelling Bee Wednesday, March 23, 2022, at Sourcewell in Staples.
Steve Kohls / Brainerd Dispatch

The second came when Glazier was nearly eliminated in the fourth round, when he appeared to stumble on “amphibian” but ultimately had the letters right.

Bellville and Glazier amicably shook hands after the bee, congratulating one another on their impressive spelling skills. In the event Bellville cannot attend the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Glazier would go in her place.

The Regional Spelling Bee hosted by Sourcewell is a contest for third through eighth graders in Region Five, all of whom were winners or finalists in their respective district spelling bees. Sourcewell covers all costs for the speller plus one parent or guardian to go to the national competition.

Participants present Wednesday were: Beau Thieschafer, seventh grade, Swanville; Matthew Prethish, sixth grade, Aitkin; Noah Drange, seventh grade, Wadena-Deer Creek; Brekkin Glazier, sixth grade, Pequot Lakes; Greta Alajoki, seventh grade, Menahga; Nesika Bellville, eighth grade, Pine River-Backus; John Schotzko, fifth grade, Staples-Motley; Claire Lucking, fifth grade, Pierz; Miette Hansel, eighth grade, Bertha-Hewitt; John Ahlin, eighth grade, Little Falls; Colin Schlangen, sixth grade, Little Falls; Kylie Wentz, sixth grade, Pierz; Hudson Nelson, sixth grade, Sebeka; Adilyne Tomala, sixth grade, Pierz.

THERESA BOURKE may be reached at theresa.bourke@brainerddispatch.com or 218-855-5860. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/DispatchTheresa .

Related Topics: EVERYDAY PEOPLEEDUCATION
Theresa Bourke started working at the Dispatch in July 2018, covering Brainerd city government and area education, including Brainerd Public Schools and Central Lakes College.
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