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VanOurkerk is WDC's superior speller

Jordin Van Ouerkirk smiles after correctly spelling "granite" and winning the WDC spelling bee contest Monday night at the high school's Robertson Theatre. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal 1 / 2
Sixth-grader Jordin Van Ouerkirk holds her spelling bee champ award after spelling her way to the top of a field of 17 students Monday night at the WDC Middle/High School. Michael Johnson/Pioneer Journal2 / 2

A group of 17 word whizzes competed for the top speller spot at Wadena-Deer Creek School Monday night with Jordin VanOurkerk coming out on top.

After going 26 rounds, 12 of which were between two sixth-graders, Jordin and Amara Neuerberg, the competition came to a close with Jordin spelling "formula" and "granite" correctly.

Spelling bee organizers could not recall this event ever going as many rounds as this one did as the two girls, and many before them, obviously knew their way around the alphabet. The difficult part in finishing is that in order to win, the last speller must correctly spell two words right after the opponent incorrectly spells their word.

Students didn't give a second thought to words like "attenuated," "amethyst," "recompense" and "munificent," but words like "calculus," "vexation," "sachet," "metallurgy" and "rapacious," tripped the students up in what can be a rather intimidating setting.

The Robertson Theatre had a large crowd of families watching the event unfold. Many parents could be seen with eyes wide and mouths hanging open in disbelief that the students, their own children, could spell some of the words being read that night.

Asked after the event, Jordin said she barely even practiced and was surprised she won. Her mom, Darla Formanek, said she practiced just two or three times with her as spelling comes easy for the sixth grader.

WDC had 31 qualify for the spelling bee but only Jordin moves unto the regional bee.

Over 30 students from across Region 5 will take the stage at Sourcewell on Tuesday, Feb. 19 for the 2019 Regional Spelling Bee. The event is free and open to the public.

The group of participating spellers is comprised of students in grades 3-8 who were a finalist or champion in their respective district. The Regional Bee Champion earns a trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C., May 26-31, 2019. Sourcewell (formerly National Joint Powers Alliance) has sponsored the Regional Bee for over 25 years. The event was held at Tornstrom Auditorium in Brainerd for many years and made the switch to Sourcewell's Staples location for the first time in 2017.

Qualifying students included:

Fifth grade

Lydia Oldakowski, Lily Peterson, Jack Van Bruggen, McKenna Dunbar, Isabelle Lehmkuhl.

Sixth grade

Amara Neuerburg, Ava Van Bruggen, Ariana Paplow, Noelle Spicer, Chloe Leeseburg, Vanessa Haataja, Jordin Van Ourkerk.

Seventh grade

Suzanna Sneeden, Libby Hartman, Brooke Self, Kelanie Oldakowski, Preston Ellingson, Gracie Ames, Anna Guo, Lola Pulver, Faith Koning.

Eighth grade

Charlie Bushinger, Jade Benning, Zoe Curtis, Charlize Pichardo, Ella Stroeing, Madelyn Gallant, Mercedes Schulz, Paige Self, Lily Adkins and Haylee Dickey.

In order to qualify, students took a written test on a grade-specified list. Fifth- and sixth-grade students needed a 90 percent success rate to qualify and seventh and eighth graders needed 80 percent and above.