JHCA 6th-grader named State Spelling Bee champion

Claire Harris, a sixth-grade student at Jackson Hole Classical Academy (JHCA), was named the 2021 Wyoming State Spelling Bee champion speller recently. She will be representing the state of Wyoming at the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee this summer.
A news release sent by a representative of Western Wyoming Community College said, “the 2021 Wyoming State Spelling Bee, sponsored by Western Wyoming Community College, was held Saturday, March 20 via the Scripps Online Testing Program. There were 73 spellers registered who represented 14 counties across the state. The competition was challenging with 25 spelling questions, 25 vocabulary questions, and 30 minutes to complete the test.”

Harris was also the first-place champion in JHCA’s Academy Bee this past January, competing against eight other students in first through eighth grade. Mr. Ben Walter, a teacher at JHCA, hosted the event along with Mr. Ian Landis, director of admissions, who was one of the judges. 

“I’ve run the JHCA Academy Bee for five years, and I was really impressed with Claire’s knowledge, and also with her poise. I’m thrilled that she’s advanced so far and I’m confident that she’ll be successful at the National Bee,” Walter said.

Asked about her reaction to learning she won the State Bee, Harris said, “I was a little surprised when I won ... because it was kind of just a normal day for me honestly.”

“I like spelling bees. I studied for my class bee, the Academy Bee, and the State Spelling Bee. The State Bee was definitely different because I was not as nervous. I think it really helped that it was virtual because I was just in my house and not in front of a lot of people,” she said.

Placing second in the State Bee was Benjamin Weisman, a fourth-grade student who attends Colter Elementary School in Jackson. He initially tied with another student for second place, so a run-off bee was held, which he subsequently won. According to his mother, Erin Weisman, he was one of the top five finishers in his school’s spelling bee.

“Although biased, I’m just really proud of these Jackson kids who have been nurtured and are thriving in our public and private schools during a challenging year!” she said. 

Porter Carson from Prairie Wind Elementary in Cheyenne, Wyoming was the third-place speller. Each student was given a gift basket of educational games, supplies, and a monetary award for their hard work, according to the news release.

According to the Scripps’ official website, the preliminary round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee will be held virtually Saturday, June 12. Ten-12 finalists from the preliminaries, quarterfinals, and semifinals will advance to the final competition, held in-person at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, Florida, on July 8. It will be broadcasted live in primetime on ESPN2.

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