Two NWI students head to Scripps National Spelling Bee
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent May 30, 2012 5:08PM
Katie Kirk, 14 of Wanatah, a student at Immanuel Lutheran School in Valparaiso. | Provided Photo~Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 6, 2012 9:18AM
Two local teens are getting their second shot at the big show in dual return trips to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Eighth-graders Casey Hennings, 13, of Kankakee Valley Middle School, and Katie Kirk, 14, of Immanuel Lutheran School in Valparaiso, earned the chance to compete on the national level after a grueling year of study and competition on the local and regional level.
“Three spelling bees take so much dedication,” Hennings said before her trip to National Harbor, Md., just outside of Washington, D.C., where this year’s competition is being held. Competitors are treated to a week of activities and sight-seeing with their families as part of the experience.
Hennings said this time around she is a little more prepared since she knows what to expect, but nerves were still an issue as she worked throughout the year to win first her school spelling bee and then earning her spot at nationals after taking a top slot in the regional competition.
“Being to nationals is so incredible. It’s unlike anything I ever experienced. I just wanted to do it again. It’s so cool,” she said.
Kirk and Hennings will be among 278 students from across the nation working their way through preliminary written and oral rounds Wednesday to earn one of 40 positions in the finals Thursday.
Candy Mues, Kirk’s eighth-grade homeroom teacher, said the whole school is pulling for Kirk as she competes again in the National Bee.
“The whole school is so pumped. It’s just amazing. We’re all so excited,” Mues said.
The student body has been cheering their classmate on from far away, watching on television Wednesday as Kirk’s turn to compete in the preliminary oral rounds would come up. So far, so good, she said.
This time around, Mues said, Kirk was returning to the national competition with the intent of enjoying the experience, since she too knows what to expect and is a little less nervous.
Mues described the eighth-grader as a well-rounded quiet student with many different interests including a love of reading and interest in music who leads by example.
“She’s a quiet leader,” Mues said