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Seventh-grader, Adam Kleist wins district spelling bee

Seventh grader Adam Kleist smiled Wednesday during the District Spelldown at For

BAXTER — Forestview Middle School seventh-grader Adam Kleist outlasted 15 students Wednesday, winning the Brainerd School District spelling bee, advancing him to The Lakes Bee for the second year in a row.

Adam was crowned the district champion after 17 rounds, that included three tie-breaking rounds. The annual sixth- through- eighth- spelling bee was held in the cafetorium at Forestview.

Adam and six other students qualified to advance to compete in the Lakes Bee, the regional spelling bee, scheduled March 2 at Tornstrom at Washington Educational Services Building in Brainerd. Students from Aitkin, Crow Wing, Cass, Morrison, Todd and Wadena counties will compete and the winner will then go on to compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee held in Washington, D.C.

Joining Adam at The Lakes Bee, will be eighth-graders Nick Ashman, Ben Froemming and Matthew Majerle; seventh-graders Camryn Schmidt; and sixth-graders Lauren Crabtree and Laura Wadsten. The Lakes Bee is sponsored by the National Joint Powers Alliance.

Adam, 12, the son of Gary and Sandi Kleist of Brainerd, said he was confident that he was going to win, as he had been studying hard.

“I planned on winning the bee,” Adam said. “My dad is in Montana and I told him I was going to win. He told me to call him afterwards to let him know how I did, but I don’t have to call him because I already told him I was going to win.”

Adam, who competed in the district spelling bee last year as a sixth-grader, said “This is the first year I was able to reach the microphone.”

Adam did not hide the fact that he is short and even laughed in Round 2 when he had to spell “munchkin.” Adam stopped a few times out of his laughter when spelling the word, but in the end he was able to compose himself and spelled it correctly.

After the bee, Adam said he was laughing because “I am a munchkin. I’m short.”

Adam spelled all, but one of his 17 words correctly in the spelling bee. In the last round he misspelled “inimical.”

The 16 students earned their spot at the district bee after going through classroom and team spelling bees; and then the top 53 students from there advanced to complete a 55-word written spelling test to make it to the oral spelling bee.

The 16 students began by competing in eight rounds where nine students were eliminated after having misspelled two or more words. Five students — Nick, Lauren, Ben, Adam and Laura — spelled all eight words correctly to advance to regionals, but had to compete in more rounds to see who the champion would be. Matthew and Camryn each misspelled one word in the first eight rounds, so were knocked out to compete for the champion, but already were guaranteed their spots for regions.

Lauren and Ben each misspelled a word in Round 11 to be eliminated and Laura was eliminated in Round 14.

It came down to Adam and Nick, who went through three more rounds. Nick was eliminated after misspelling “dromedary” and auxiliary.” Adam correctly spelled “amethyst” and “incandescence” for the win.

Adam said he and Nick are friends.

“He’s my debate partner and this spring he’ll be my partner in tennis,” Adam said. “Not too many people look up to me and that’s no short joke.”

Adam said he plans to study for the regional bee and he has hopes to move on to nationals, where his goal will be to make semi-finals.

Susan Rogers, who has been the district’s spelling bee coordinator for the past 12 years, congratulated all the 16 spellers.

“What a great group of kids,” Rogers said. “Polite, courteous and supportive of each other. I love their facial expressions when they were not sure of the word.”

The pronouncer of the bee was Kathy Tusa and the judges were Karen Ogdahl, Brenda Johnson and Carole Humrickhouse.

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at or 855-5851.