A chalet is a remote herdsman’s hut in the Alps or a Swiss style dwelling. It’s also the winning word of the 38th annual Riley County Spelling Bee, as spelled by Justin Ok, a seventh grader at Susan B. Anthony Middle School.
Ok out-spelled 15 other students ranging in grades from fourth to eighth, quite an accomplishment since he was also a late entry to the bee. The runner-up at his school bee, he didn’t find out until mid-week he would be participating. “I only had three days to study,” he said, adding that he used the three days to scan the Merriam-Webster’s website each day.
As the champion, Ok will continue on to the regional Spelling Bee, which takes place on March 3 at Topeka West High School. The winner of that bee will win an all-expense paid trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee at the end of May.
Karis Ryu, a seventh grader from Manhattan Catholic Schools, was runner-up, lasting 10 rounds, before misspelling “sluice.” Ryu will also continue on to the regional bee in Topeka.
Ryu said she studied the list of words each night to prepare for the bee and has been competing since fourth grade. She said she enjoys memorization.
During the eighth round, Ryu might have been eliminated for her spelling of “ukulele,” if not for the intervention of her mother.
Ryu spelled it “ukelele,” prompting the judges to shake their heads. But after a challenge from her mother, it was determined that Ryu’s was an acceptable alternate spelling of the word.
The spelling bee took place at the little theater in Manhattan High School-West and lasted for 12 rounds.
Anna Keeley, an eighth grader at Christian Homes in Education Fellowship, will be the alternate for Ok and Ryu.
Ellen Titus, a retired teacher, and Joyce Glasscock, executive director of the Boys and Girls of Manhattan, were the judges in the bee, which was sponsored by the Manhattan Mercury.
The other contestants were: A.J. Hicks, a fourth grader at Ogden Elementary; Joanna Park, a fourth grader at Bergman Elementary; Alexis Aguilar, a fifth grader at Lee Elementary; Aidan Goins, a fifth grader at Marlatt Elementary; Taylor Johnson, a fifth grader at Bluemont Elementary; Anna Mackay, a fifth grader at Northview Elementary; Tali Pannell, a fifth grader at Theodore Roosevelt Elementary; Calvin Almendra-Meyn, a sixth grader at Riley County Grade School; Macy Baker, a sixth grader at Amanda Arnold Elementary; Neeley Bowden, a sixth grader at Woodrow Wilson Elementary; Derek Shaheen, a sixth grader at Blue Valley Randolph Middle School; Taylor Bullock, a seventh grader at Eisenhower Middle School; and Sophie Bowman, a seventh grader at Riley County Grade School.