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Houghtaling holds spelling bee: Sixth-grader Myra McAlister wins, will compete at district bee
Sixth grade student Myra McAlister won the spelling bee at Houghtaling Friday afternoon. McAlister is a student in Becca Doyle’s class. Photo by Hall Anderson

Daily News Staff Writer

Houghtaling Elementary School held its school-wide Scripps Spelling Bee on Friday, during which third-through-sixth-graders competed in eight rounds of spelling in the hopes of advancing to the Ketchikan School District spelling bee on Feb. 21.

Ultimately, sixth-grader Myra McAlister took home the winning title — but it was no effortless victory. McAlister moved up in the ranks throughout the competition, which lasted almost an hour-and-a-half, to surpass 30 of her peers.

The judges for the event were Alma Parker, Ketchikan School Board member; and Sheila Klosterman, the principal of Houghtaling Elementary. The word pronouncer was Robert McClory, the junior and senior guidance counselor at Ketchikan High School.

Debbie Merle, a fifth-grade teacher at Houghtaling, told the students the rules before the event began. She told them they were allowed to ask for a definition of the word; they could ask for it to be used in a sentence; spellers could ask what part of speech the word was; what language or origin the word comes from; and they could request an alternate pronunciation.

By the end of the first round, third-grader Dean Harris and fourth-grader Carter Phillips were eliminated. By the end of the second round, Noah Robbins, a third-grader; Isaak Langley, a third-grader; Xavier Dalton, a third-grader; Edward DelaCruz, a fourth-grader; and Marcus Stockhausen, a fifth-grader, were cut as well.

Chelsey Weber, a fourth-grader; Gabriel Sablan, a fourth-grader; and Iris Bondoc, a fifth-grader, were eliminated in the third round. When the start of round four rolled around, only 20 spellers remained.

In round four, T.J. Alahan, a third-grader; Wyatt Balluta, a third-grader; and Gemma Sablan, a fifth-grader, were cut — misspelling words such as cattle, marbles and village.

By the time round five ended, four more spellers slipped up and misspelled chapel, severely, valuables and disguise. Those students included Madison Dalton, a third-grader; Ahna MacManus, a fourth-grader; Lei Pilar, a sixth-grader; and Isaiah Garcia, also a sixth-grader.

Six students were eliminated in the sixth round — Timothy Juanillo, a fourth-grader; Kali MacManus, a fourth-grader; Oliver Wutzke, a fifth-grader; Alaina Settle, a fifth-grader; Kain Dalton, a fifth-grader; and Kady Kloxin, a sixth-grader. Some of their misspelled words included balloonist, sparsely, altitude and testament.

The foldable chairs placed in a half-circular position in the gymnasium at Houghtaling began thinning out round-after-round. Round seven only saw seven competitors, and by its end, only five remained.

Kaden Shaddy, a third-grader; and Aaron Handly, a sixth-grader, were cut in round seven — misspelling the words opponent and correctional. Round eight eliminated Sherlett Dimayuga, a third-grader; Brian Burns, a fourth-grader; and Landon Langley, a sixth-grader. The words became longer and more difficult, leaving the students to misspell words like vegetation and segregation.

It was down to two — fourth-grader Joziah DelaCruz and McAlister. DelaCruz misspelled the word dexterity, leaving McAlister to spell barrett, leading to her triumph as the Houghtaling Elementary School spelling bee champion.

The sixth-grader sat alone at the front of the gymnasium basking in her success as Merle awarded certificates to all spellers, in front of their parents, teachers and peers.

McAlister will move on to compete in the district spelling bee, representing Houghtaling at 11 a.m. on Feb. 21 at Fawn Mountain Elementary. If she isn’t able to attend, Joziah DelaCruz will take her place.

There will be spellers from third through eighth grade from around the district, who have the opportunity to compete at the Alaska State Spelling Bee on March 29 Anchorage.