Royalton seventh grader rises to the top of regional spelling bee

William Rausch took top honors, Greta Alajoki of Menahga was runner-up and Karly Haverkamp of Wadena-Deer Creek was second runner-up.

A boy smiles and stands at a microphone after winning a spelling bee.
Royalton seventh grader William Rausch smiles after taking first place honors in the 2023 Regional Spelling Bee March 22, 2023, at Sourcewell in Staples. Rausch’s winning word was "comportment."
Contributed / Sourcewell

STAPLES — William Rausch certainly displayed the comportment of a spelling champion.

The Royalton School seventh grader took top honors Wednesday, March 22, at the 2023 Regional Spelling Bee, hosted by Sourcewell. Rausch now moves on to the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee the last week of May in National Harbor, Maryland.

Following Rausch’s successful spelling of “comportment” and being declared by judges as the winner, Sourcewell Student Academics Coordinator Phillip Olsen approached the stage to congratulate Rausch and asked how he studied and prepared for the spelling bee.

“I just did it in my living room with my mom,” Rausch said before the crowd, pointing to his mom in the audience. “She said the word out loud and I wrote it down.”

The top three regional finishers were:


  • Champion – William Rausch, seventh grade, Royalton,
  • Runner-up – Greta Alajoki, eighth grade, Menahga,
  • Second Runner-up – Karly Haverkamp, eighth grade, Wadena-Deer Creek.

Each year, 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. The winner earns an all-expenses paid trip to the national spelling bee for themselves and a parent/guardian.
“We were able to witness 17 of the area’s best spellers in action,” Olsen said. “These students — ranging in age from third grade to eighth — showed incredible talent and poise. This event is always a wonderful way to showcase the skills of our students. In the end, William was able to outlast some strong competition and earned the top spot in the 12th round.”

Each participant 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.

All 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.
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