UNION TOWNSHIP | After spelling "echt" in an earlier round Saturday, Sean Ives had no trouble dealing with "efficacy," handling it with efficacy, to earn the title and the trip to Washington, D.C., for the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Ives, a Crown Point resident and a seventh-grade student at Trinity Lutheran School, said echt was the toughest of the 12 words he had to spell to win the title in the competition held at Wheeler High School. Many people in the audience probably wondered what the heck echt means.
(It means real or genuine, according to the Internet.)
"We studied a lot during the last three weeks, but it's hard to remember all the words," Ives said afterward. "So, we probably will cut down on the words (in preparing for the national finals) so I can remember them."
His coach and cheerleader was his mother Jodi, who said the two practiced every night since getting the word list three weeks ago. She said they were a little surprised he won the preliminary competition to get to the Wheeler finals because he was involved in other things, especially basketball, but he was able to focus on just the spelling lately.
"We won't practice every night (for the finals)," Jodi Ives said. "We're burned out. All we expected for Sean was to do his best. It's so easy to make a mistake. The kids have to conquer nerves to do well. With God's blessing, we just wanted him to do the best he can."
Sean said he decided to enter the spelling bee because he enjoys competing. He's also in the state Geography Bee finals in April. In addition to an expenses-paid trip to the nation's capital, he received several prizes, including a $50 U.S. savings bond, a $100 cash prize from the event sponsors Kankakee Valley REMC, two dictionaries and a one-year subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
Second place went to Anisha Kondamuri, of Wilbur Wright Middle School in Munster, and the third place winner was Dheven Unni, of Forest Ridge Academy. A total of 19 students from Lake, Porter and LaPorte counties competed.
Dr. Scott Simerlein served a pronouncer for the bee and got a sometimes tongue-twisting workout from the young spellers. When one young lass was asked to spell "seersucker," she questioned him about the word a couple of times, mispronouncing it as "serasucker" each time.
Simerlein gave her the correct pronunciation after the first two attempts, but on his third try he said "seersuckle." He had to recollect himself before giving the correct pronunciation, and the student then correctly spelled it.