February 6, 2012 | Vol. 42 No. 6

Fourth-grader eclipses field in spelling bee, heads to state

Jayden Rettinger sure didn’t act nervous on Tuesday during his first spelling bee.

Margaret Friedenauer
Jayden Rettinger, Dylan Chapell, Alexandria Chapin and Mori Hays compete in the final rounds of the Haines elementary and middle school spelling be on Feb. 7.

It only took 25 minutes and six rounds for fourth-grader Rettinger to beat out a field of 12 students for first place in the Haines School Spelling Bee.

“It’s my first spelling bee in my life,” he said. “I was really nervous.”

Rettinger clinched the win by correctly spelling “eclipse” followed by “virtue” after second-place winner, eighth-grader Mori Hays, misspelled “antelope.”

But the real excitement came in the competition for third place. Fourth-grader Dylan Chapell and eighth-grader Alexandria Chapin both misspelled their words in the final round and went head-to-head for eight rounds in a spell-off to break the tie. For the first few rounds, neither Chapell nor Chapin could get past stumpers like “perturb,” “interrupt” and “ingredient.” But then the pair kept the tie going with several rounds of each correctly spelling words like “glimpse,” “axle,” “ugliness,” “munchkin” and “flannel.” Finally, in round eight, Chapin correctly spelled “assign” and Chapell missed the spelling of “chorus,” giving the eighth-grader the third-place win.

Friends Rettinger, a home-schooled student, and Chapell sat together and encouraged each other throughout the event. Rettinger said he studied hard and practiced mostly by spelling words out loud. Any words he mis-spelled, he would then practice by writing out. And now he plans to continue studying because he is going to Anchorage to represent Haines in the state spelling bee on March 3. The Haines American Legion Women’s Auxiliary is sponsoring his trip.

And hopefully, with one spelling bee behind him, the next one won’t be so nerve-racking.

“I had no idea I was going to win,” he said.