Steenrod Elementary School Third-Grader Adam Connors Earns Trip to Scripps National Spelling Bee


Northern Panhandle residents see oriel windows everyday in their communities — and at least one third grade student at Steenrod Elementary school knows how to spell the word “oriel.”

An oriel window is another term for a bay window.

Steenrod third-grader Adam Connors asked for the definition of the word before spelling “oriel” correctly Tuesday to win the regional spelling bee Tuesday at Wheeling Jesuit University. The victory moves him on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Maryland.

The competition is open to youths up to eighth grade, but the younger students dominated at the regional spelling bee Tuesday.

While Connors finished first, Woodsdale Elementary School fourth grade student Audrey Kenamond was the runner-up. Urjit “Roop” Sau, a fourth grade student also from Steenrod, came in third place.

Teacher Jenna Daugherty organizes the spelling bee effort at Steenrod and said the students largely take the initiative to learn the words for the spelling bee “all on their own.” They are taught to look at the origins, meaning and etymology of the words they seek to spell to find clues.

“A lot of our students are just natural spellers,” Daugherty said. “As they move on, the words become more difficult. They need to know the origin and definition of the word to help them spell it.”

The journey to the National Spelling Bee begins in February at Steenrod, when students first receive word lists to practice. There are classroom spelling bees, with the top finishers moving on to the school spelling bee. The top two finishers in the school spelling bee represent the school at the regional bee.

Daugherty estimated about 20 students participated in the regional spelling bee from schools such as Steenrod, Woodsdale and Bethlehem elementaries, The Linsly School, Wheeling Country Day School, St. Vincent de Paul Parish School and Our Lady of Peace School.

Connors will take part in the Scripps National Spelling Bee and all of “Bee Week,” slated for May 26-31 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland. The competition begins May 27 with preliminary testing. Rounds of onstage spelling will take place May 28-30. The prime time finals will be held at 8:30 p.m. May 30, when the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion will emerge from an initial pool of 11 million school spelling bee champions.

Steenrod Elementary School Principal Michelle Dietrich said she was thrilled to learn of Connors’ victory in Tuesday’s regional event. She said she is sure he will make an impressive showing at the national competition.

“We are so proud of Adam,” Dietrich said. “He loves learning, and I know how excited he is to move on to the National Spelling Bee. Roop is also so talented and such a dedicated learner. To have these two students achieve so much in such a great contest is beyond exciting for everyone at Steenrod Elementary School.”

Woodsdale Elementary School Principal Ashlea Minch said Kenamond is a standout student at her school, and she is not surprised she nearly won the regional competition.

“To say that we are proud of Audrey for finishing second in such a tough competition is an understatement,” Minch said. “Her drive and dedication in anything she takes part in amazes us daily. We can’t wait to see what she accomplishes in the future.”


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