Oroville’s Leo Chen headed to D.C. for National Spelling Bee

Winning word at Regional Bee was ‘distinguo’

EAST WENATCHEE – For the second year in a row, Oroville seventh grade student Leo Chen will represent North Central Washington in Washington D.C. this spring in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Leo Chenn, seen here at last year's Regional Spelling Bee held in East Wenatchee, has won the regional contest for the second year in a row. The Oroville seventh grader will now compete in Washington, D.C. at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Leo Chenn, seen here at last year’s Regional Spelling Bee held in East Wenatchee, has won the regional contest for the second year in a row. The Oroville seventh grader will now compete in Washington, D.C. at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

It was an impressive word list that greeted spellers earlier this evening, March 16, in East Wenatchee at the North Central Washington Regional Spelling Bee sponsored by the Washington Apple Education Foundation (WAEF). Forty-five students from grades four through eight competed in the regional spelling bee representing schools in Okanogan, Grant, Chelan and Douglas counties. Each of the participants earned their place in the regional spelling bee by scoring as one of the top two spellers in their local, school spelling bee.

The winning word was “distinguo” for seventh grade Oroville Middle-High School student Leo Chen who survived 10 rounds to capture this year’s title and win a trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the Washington D.C. area in May. Distinguo is a noun of Latin origin defined as a quibbling act of describing a thing by giving its differentiation of characteristics.

Five additional rounds followed to determine the second and third place champions. Morgen Owens Elementary (Chelan) sixth grade student Olivia Strandberg earned second place and Faith Kruse, an eighth grade student at Cashmere Middle School placed third. Both girls placed in the top three for the second year in a row.

The NCW Regional Spelling Bee, held at Eastmont Junior High School, was presented by the Washington Apple Education Foundation for the sixth year. The format was of a traditional “spelldown” with each student receiving one word per round. At the end of each round, those who spelled their words correctly continued onto the next round. Approximately ­­­­­­300 guests filled the auditorium to support the spellers.

Spellers were given a word list to study in advance of the regional competition. This word list was utilized in early rounds of the contest with the final rounds consisting of words students had likely not studied.

In addition to the six-day trip to Washington DC to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, this year’s champion won a one-year subscription to the Encyclopedia Britannica’s online edition, a copy of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary from Merriam-Webster and the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award.

Both second and third place winners received a $25 Amazon gift card and a Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary.

The Washington Apple Education Foundation (WAEF) is the charity of the tree fruit industry. Founded in 1994, WAEF coordinates, promotes and develops charitable activities reflecting tree fruit industry member priorities. The organization is best known for its scholarship program. In 2016 WAEF awarded over $1 million in scholarship aid to students raised in tree fruit industry communities.

For more information on WAEF or the NCW Regional Spelling Bee, contact the WAEF office at (509) 663-7713 or www.waef.org.