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New Salem - March 12, 2008

Counselor’s Corner

Dr. Gaylynn Becker
National Certified Career Counselor
National Certified School Counselor
New Salem High School

State Spelling Bee Bound!

Congratulations to Anna Bernhardt for qualifying for the North Dakota State Spelling Bee! Anna took first place in the Morton County Spelling Bee. As a result she and the second place winner advance to the State Spelling Bee in Bismarck at the Best Western Ramkota Hotel on Friday, March 28th. The New Salem Journal did an excellent job in an article recognizing all 3 of New Salem’s representatives and their accomplishments at the Morton County Spelling Bee. Way to go Ashley Bateman, Anna Bernhardt, and Duster May.

Anna Bernhardt – Morton County Spelling Champion!

One hundred-six top spellers from across North Dakota are invited to attend the North Dakota State Spelling Bee. That is the top 2 spellers from each county. There will be a 50 word written spelling bee competition beginning at 9:30 A.M. After a noon banquet, all student participants will be introduced and will have a photo opportunity with a North Dakota dignitary. Often these dignitaries will be someone from the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction and/or the Governor’s Office – so mom and dad be sure to take your camera.

Immediately after each student is introduced, the top 25-30 students from the written round will be announced. These top students will participate in the oral spelldown. The winner of this oral spelldown will be the North Dakota State Spelling Bee Champion! It’s as simple as that. The only variable is “Who is the best speller!” These oral finals are what makes the State Spelling Bee very intense – to say the least. Among other prizes, the winner of the State Spelling Bee receives an expense paid trip for 2 to the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC on May 29th and 30th.

I want to thank the North Dakota Council of Educational Leaders, Rick Heidt – coordinator of the State Spelling Bee, county superintendents, the North Dakota Newspaper Association, Tom Jensen, Chief Justice Gerald Vandewalle, Pat Laubach, and many other groups and individuals who contribute to making it possible to have a North Dakota State Spelling Bee!

What does it take to win the State!
I’ve been fortunate to visit with most of the state spelling bee champions since 1992. Every one I’ve visited with indicated that they studied the lists of spelling words for months or years. Studying these spelling words not only helps to make a person a better speller, but also increases ones vocabulary.

The youngest state spelling bee champion I’ve seen was a 5th grade student. He came back to win it as a 6th and 7th grade student. He did not compete as an 8th grade student as he wanted to focus on the North Dakota Geography Bee. This student finished number 3 in the national spelling bee as a 7th grade student. These state winners were serious about spelling and studied the words, their roots, meanings, etc. prior to 6th grade.

For anyone who would like to see what some of these top national spellers go through in preparing for the National Spelling Bee, a documentary was made of the 1996 Scripps National Spelling Bee titled, “Spellbound!” For anyone who’s serious about spelling and want to know what it may take to win the National Spelling Bee, this is a movie to see.
For more information about the Scripps National Spelling Bee and to obtain “Spell It” a free official study booklet, go to and respectively. The younger an interested student begins preparing for the state and national spelling bee, the better the student will become at not only spelling but also at building a vocabulary that will benefit himself throughout life.

Adult Spelling Bee
Meanwhile – back at the State Spelling Bee – while the students are busy receiving their written spelling words in the morning session, there will be another spelling bee going on in another room. That’s right, a spelling bee for the adults in attendance! Of course, adult participation is voluntary.

During the Noon Recognition Luncheon, the adult winner will be announced. At the National Spelling Bee, parents are given an opportunity during an evening session to compete in a similar spelling bee competition.

L-R: Anna Bernhardt and Mrs. Olheiser

Anna’s teacher/coach is Mrs. Jody Olheiser – 7th, 8th, and 9th grade English teacher at New Salem High School. They will do a great job of representing New Salem High School. I plan to be there again to help out as well. Good luck Anna!

If you have any questions on career, counseling, or assessment topics, please contact me at either New Salem High School at 843-7610, or at my residence at 222-3222.

Have an excellent academic day!