WDC student finishes 2nd runner-up in Staples spelling bee

Karly Haverkamp is an eighth grader at Wadena-Deer Creek Middle School. The 13-year-old finished as the second runner-up in the March 22 regional spelling bee sponsored by Sourcewell in Staples.

Karly Haverkamp at 2023 regional spelling bee sponsored by Sourcewell in Staples
Karly Haverkamp of Wadena holds an award for finishing as the second runner-up on March 22, 2023, in the regional spelling bee in Staples sponsored by Sourcewell. The 13-year-old is an eighth grader at Wadena-Deer Creek Middle School.
Contributed / Sourcewell

STAPLES — How do you spell success? Just ask Karly Haverkamp.

The eighth grader at Wadena-Deer Creek Middle School finished as the second runner-up in the March 22 regional spelling bee in Staples sponsored by Sourcewell.

“I practiced with my mom. We would just go through the words,” Haverkamp said. “I would look through them and then she would say the word to me and I would spell it out to her.”

The 13-year-old from Wadena was bested by Royalton seventh grader William Rausch, who took first place in the competition. Rausch’s winning word was “comportment.”

“I was surprised that I did that well. I wasn't really expecting to do well, and I didn't really feel I was prepared so I was surprised that I did that well,” Haverkamp said.


Sourcewell hosts the regional spelling bee for third through eighth graders of member schools in the five-county service area of Cass, Crow Wing, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties.

“I don't think that spelling and, like, English is my favorite (subject),” Haverkamp said. “But it's something that I do pretty well at and so I enjoy doing some of those things.”

Karly Haverkamp of Wadena
Karly Haverkamp
Contributed / Sourcewell

The winner of the regional spelling bee earns an all-expenses paid trip to the national spelling bee for themselves and a parent or guardian. Haverkamp said the word “municipal” tripped her up in the regional spelling bee and eliminated her from competing in the national spelling bee.

“You can ask the pronouncers to say a word again and say the definition, and I think sometimes using the definition and the pronunciation and kind of relating them to other words that I know kind of helped me to figure out how to spell new words that I'm not familiar with,” she said.

Each participant in the spelling bee was a finalist or champion in their respective district. The representation formula is one speller per 1,000 students based on K-12 enrollment, which also includes private and parochial schools within the geographical boundaries of a district.

“We were able to witness 17 of the area’s best spellers in action,” Sourcewell Student Academics Coordinator Phillip Olsen said in a news release. “These students — ranging in age from third grade to eighth — showed incredible talent and poise.”

Haverkamp also participates in cross-country, softball and Knowledge Bowl as a Wadena-Deer Creek student.

“What I really want to do is kind of go into, like, business and stuff … and spelling would obviously probably not be a huge part in that, but I would need it for, like, a lot of English electives and stuff come high school and many other different things,” Haverkamp said.


Greta Alajoki, an eighth grader from Menahga, was the runner-up in the regional spelling bee in Staples. Rausch moves on to the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee that will take place the last week of May in National Harbor, Maryland.

“This event is always a wonderful way to showcase the skills of our students,” Olsen stated about the Sourcewell-sponsored regional spelling bee. “In the end, William was able to outlast some strong competition and earned the top spot in the 12th round.”

Regional spelling bee participants

  • Zach Prethish, fifth grade, Aitkin
  • Annika Kalis, seventh grade, Aitkin
  • Mariana Hansel, eighth grade, Bertha-Hewitt
  • Gracie Uecker, sixth grade, Crosslake
  • Greta Alajoki, eighth grade, Menahga
  • Drake Bowers, eighth grade, Pequot Lakes
  • Jacob Harrison, seventh grade, Pequot Lakes
  • Zedrick Fleck, fifth grade, Pierz
  • Nathan Millner, third grade, Pierz
  • Gabe Stangl, eighth grade, Pierz
  • Leigham Markley, seventh grade, Pine River-Backus
  • William Rausch, seventh grade, Royalton
  • Hudson Nelson, seventh grade, Sebeka
  • Maggie Grunewald, fifth grade, Staples-Motley
  • Milo Hutchins, seventh grade, Swanville
  • Miley Hess, seventh grade, Verndale
  • Karly Haverkamp, eighth grade, Wadena-Deer Creek
I cover the community of Wadena, Minn., and write features stories for the Wadena Pioneer Journal. The weekly newspaper is owned by Forum Communications Co.
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