With its performance at the Plymouth High School-hosted Academic Spell Bowl contest Wednesday night, PHS spellers earned a spot in the state finals with a score of 73 – just two spots behind state leader Penn High School’s 88 points.
“This was our second year hosting the ‘Area Contest,’” said Plymouth coach Amy Schmeltz. “Kyle Coffman, our assistant principal, serves as the emcee. English teachers Lisa Mercer, Stephanie Wezeman and Elise Watson do an amazing job running the slideshow and keeping score.”
Schmeltz credited the entire school – from administrators to custodians – for pitching in to make the competition a success for all of the schools, not just Plymouth. “Of the seven teams from our Area competition,” Schmeltz said, “five are advancing to state. We are in a competitive group, and that makes all of the teams stronger.”
Schmeltz is proud of her team’s accomplishment. “This team worked hard all year to prepare for the Area competition,” she said. “We practice on Mondays and Wednesdays after school for one hour starting in August. I test the students over a 100-word list at each practice, which gets us through roughly 1,500 of the 3,500 words on the list.”
Students also study on their own, for words that include just a sample of the following: Abysmal, quotidian, truculent, Demosthenes, kinkajou and coruscate.
Schmeltz said, “We competed in several invitationals (Penn, Kouts, NLC at NorthWood and Logansport) prior to the Area competition. The students’ scores improved after each invitational as they gained more experience.”
Plymouth’s team earned its highest score of the season at Logansport with a score of 84.
“The last couple of practices before Area, we focus on some challenging words by having board races,” Schmeltz said. “The students love the fast-paced competition.
The students really work hard to achieve a personal best, and many of them love to earn a perfect or near-perfect ribbon.”
Schmeltz said it was exciting to have three students with perfect scores Wednesday. They were: Sam Carroll, Edgar Garcia and Sydney Morris. Two, Garrett Garver and Grace Morris, had near-perfect scores.
Plymouth team members also include: Jessica Baca, Hope Carter, Jena Downs, Julia Marohn, Sharon Oviedo, Matt Pintal, Cynthia Renteria and Autumn Wilson.
Along with Penn and Plymouth, Mishawaka also moves on to state finals. The three advancing competed at PHS against New Prairie (Class 2; score 68; first place at Area and second in state overall); John Glenn (Class 2; score 57; second place at Area and third in state overall); Bremen (Class 3; score 43; first place at Area); Caston (Class 4; score 11; first place at Area). Approximately 6,000 students from around the state have been preparing for this, the 32nd annual Indiana Academic Spell Bowl. The competition is administered by the Indiana Association of School Principals, Department of Student Programs, and sponsored by Purdue University, where state finals will be held Nov. 12 at 11 a.m.
Maggie Nixon Correspondent