Local speller does well in Toronto Finishes eighth at regional bee

Although she didn’t come in first place, Heather Sieders returned a winner from a regional spelling bee in Toronto earlier this month.
The Grade 8 student at St. Francis School here was participating in the first-ever CanWest CanSpell Spelling Bee.
Regional bees are taking place this month in 11 cities across Canada. The competition in Toronto included 53 students—with most of them from that area.
Sieders finished eighth among the 53 competitors—a strong showing for a student who said she spent little time practising prior to the event held Sunday, March 6.
“I didn’t really do any studying until the Saturday before. On Saturday, we crammed,” she said, adding her mother, Jenny, quizzed her at a downtown restaurant after a day of shopping.
The students assembled at the Harbourfront Centre Theatre on the Sunday morning for orientation and to be assigned their numbers.
Sieders was #53—meaning she was the last student to spell in each round. “It was kind of nerve-wracking at first, but I got used to it,” she remarked.
The venue itself was rather intimidating, she added, with spellers sitting under bright lights and each student having to approach a microphone in front of the crowd when their turn came.
She successfully spelled “agronomy” and “ridiculously,” as well as two other words, until she got to the fifth round.
“The last round where I got out was pretty intense,” Sieders said, noting more than half of the kids who started that round were eliminated.
Sieders said she misspelled “gibbet,” giving it a second “i’” instead of an “e.”
Edwin Ho, a 13-year-old student from Kennedy Public School, took first place after nine rounds while Christopher Chiang, an 11-year-old from St. Anthony Catholic School, was the runner-up.
Both will move on to Canada’s first national spelling bee in Ottawa to compete against the top two winners from each region across the country.
That winner will receive a $10,000 education fund provided by CanWest Media Works. Gov.-Gen. Adrienne Clarkson will act as one of the judges.
The first-place winner from each region also will go on to compete in the 78th-annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. from May 29-June 3.
Though she will not be moving on in the competition, Sieders said she was proud of her performance. “I would have been happy if I just made it past the first round,” she noted.
The trip itself was as exciting as the competition. It was the 13-year-old’s first trip to Toronto and she and her mother made the most of it—shopping at the Eaton Centre and catching “Mama Mia” at the Royal Alexandra Theatre.
“I loved it. I could’ve moved in there,” she said of the large downtown shopping centre.
Sieders was one of just two students from Northwestern Ontario to make it to the regionals in Toronto. The other was Jameson Huckell from St. Joseph’s School in Dryden, who made it to the fourth round.
While she will be too old to participate in the spelling bee next year, Sieders said she would recommend the experience to other students.
“It’s really fun. You definitely get to meet new people,” she remarked.