If you want to know about success, local elementary and middle school students can spell it out for you — and many more words, too.

Schools competed in the 24th annual Indiana Academic Spell Bowl during the month of November, and two local schools earned top marks at the state level.

In the elementary school Blue Division, Southside won the state championship and was the only school with a perfect score of 56. In the middle school division, Northside won Class 1 with an almost-perfect score of 71 out of 72.

The Indiana Academic Spell Bowl is administered by the Indiana Association of School Principles and Department of Student Programs. It is sponsored by Purdue University.

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More than 500 schools compete against one another in eight rounds. Each round consists of a single team member writing the spelling of seven words and each correct word earns a point for the team.

Schools are placed in divisions based on school size and number of students enrolled.

Leading up to the competition, students study a list of 750 words, of which only 56 are randomly selected the night of the elementary competition, said Kandice Castillo, Smith Elementary spell bowl coach.

At the elementary level, schools throughout Indiana competed Nov. 17. Locally, students competed at Southside Elementary.

Smith Elementary competed in the Green Division, along with St. Peter’s Lutheran, St. Bartholomew, Rockcreek, ABC Stewart and CSA – Lincoln. Smith placed first within its division in BCSC and, after completing the tiebreaker for second place in state, they finished fourth in the Green Division, Castillo said. St. Peter’s Lutheran also made the top 10 by placing ninth in the same division.

Southside Principal Jeff Backmeyer commended his school’s championship team for an excellent job, and said it was a great example of the students doing their personal best.

To prepare for the big night, Southside fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders practiced several times each week and took a weekly spelling test with words from the competition list, said Karin Duchow, Southside’s spell bowl coach.

Parkside Elementary followed close behind Southside, placing third in the state with a score of 54.

“My spellers’ commitment to excel as a team is commendable,” said Susie Baker, Parkside’s Spell Bowl coach.

At the middle school level, rivals Northside and Central both earned 67 out of 72 points in the regional competition at Brown County Junior High School on Nov. 1, so the competition went into a tiebreaker round. They tied again and went to a second tiebreaker, which counted the number of perfect spellers on each team, Northside Principal Amy Dixon said. Northside won with six perfect spellers to Central’s four.

Both schools were selected to compete at the state level Nov. 11 at Loeb Playhouse at Purdue University.

“The word we missed was pantomime,” said Molly Fountain, Northside Spell Bowl coach. “That might be really surprising to some people, but these kids study so hard; they can spell words that make most people go ‘Huh?’ So, sometimes it’s words like this one that trip them up.”

Last year, Northside only missed two words and came in second. The last time Northside won the state championship was in 1986, Dixon said.

Central made its second-ever appearance in the state competition and finished fifth place. Last year Central reach the state competition for the first time.

Students on the team often sacrificed their lunch times to prepare, said Mindy Summers, Central Spell Bowl coach.

For complete results

To view complete results, visit iasp.org. Hover over Student Programs tab, then Academic Competitions.

Test Your Spelling Expertise

Test your spelling expertise! These are some of the words students spelled during the competition.

Elementary school level:




Filet Mignon

Middle school level:






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Kaitlyn Evener is an editorial assistant for The Republic. She can be reached at kevener@therepublic.com or 812-379-5633.