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Baxter student makes it through Round 3 in Scripps National Spelling Bee: Says it was a great experience

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Forestview Middle School seventh-grader Hannah Moddes waits for her word Tuesday, May 28, in Round 2 in the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. Submitted Photo 3 / 4
Forestview Middle School seventh-grader Hannah Moddes poses Wednesday, May 29, for a photo during free time while at the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. Submitted Photo 4 / 4

Forestview Middle School seventh-grader Hannah Moddes gave it her best shot this week—making it through Round 3 in the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., before being eliminated.

Hannah, 12, was among the top 565 students in the nation to qualify for one of the nation's oldest and most iconic competitions—going from a classroom in Baxter to the Maryland Ballroom stage in the nation's capital. The purpose of the national spelling bee, in its 92nd year, is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabulary, learn concepts and develop correct English usage to help them all their lives, the bee website stated.

Hannah's journey with the spelling bee began in the Brainerd Public Schools spelling bee open to students in sixth through eighth grades. Written tests were given to about 1,500 students, with the top 15 students with the highest scores qualifying for the oral district bee. Hannah did just that and was one of the top seven students from the district bee to advance to the regional bee. Hannah then outlasted 30 students in the regional bee to win her spot for the trip to Washington, D.C., to compete at nationals.

Hannah, the daughter of Megan Korte and Daniel Moddes, both of Baxter, was sponsored by Sourcewell.

The national spelling bee began at 11 a.m Monday, May 27, with the spellers taking a preliminary written test. The students with top scores on the preliminary tests and the students who spelled their words correctly in Round 2 and 3 were invited to the stage for the announcement of the finalists. No more than 50 spellers advance to the finals. Finals begin at 10 a.m. Thursday, May 30.

In a telephone interview, Hannah said the results of the preliminary test are emailed to the parents and she got about half of them right. On Tuesday, Round 2, an oral round began. When Hannah, who was No. 261, got on stage, she was asked to spelled "legislatorial," and she did so correctly. Then she had to wait until Wednesday morning, when she was up again for Round 3. Her Round 3 word was "rejuvenescent," meaning becoming young again. She again spelled it correctly.

"Even if I spelled (my words) right I knew I may get kicked off," she said. "It depends on how everyone did on their preliminary test. I knew there was a good chance I wouldn't make it."

Hannah said though she didn't advance, it was a great experience.

"It was great," she said. "The officials were really nice, everyone was really nice. ... It was a fun week and it will get even better."

Hannah said she was nervous during the competition of the national bee—especially seeing all the TV cameras, which included ESPN, but she had fun. When all the spellers arrived to D.C. Monday there was a formal ceremony and kick-off party, where she met some of the other spellers.

Hannah said going into the bee, she didn't get in as much studying as she would have liked.

"I'm a procrastinator, so I didn't begin to study hard until the week before the bee," she said.

Hannah said the spellers received a spelling list before Round 2 so she was able to study, but they didn't get a list before Round 3, though she did just fine as she spelled her word correctly.

Hannah said now that she is no longer in the competition, she can relax and have fun with her family exploring the sites of Washington. She said they plan to come home Saturday.

Looking back at her spelling bee year, Hannah said what she learned about herself was she is much better at knowing Latin-based words than she realized.

Jennifer Kraus

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