OROVILLE – For many her last name might be hard to spell, but for Haley Montowski her spelling abilities were good enough to get her a chance to compete at Wenatchee for a shot at going to Washington D.C. for the National Spelling Bee.
The 11 year-old fifth-grader from Dave Taylor’s class earned her place as Oroville Elementary School’s top speller by first winning a class competition. From there three spellers from her class went on to a school-wide spelling bee held in the gym where she got to complete with other kids from her grade.
“I was in the spelling bee last year so I wasn’t that nervous, but I wasn’t completely calm either,” said Montowski with a smile.
She says there ended up being four fifth-graders competing for the top honors and this in turn was narrowed down to two. She can’t recall just what word it was she spelled to win the school competition.
“I don’t remember…it wasn’t really easy, but it wasn’t that hard. I felt some of the kids got harder words than me,” she said.
She then went on to compete at Omak and believes her winning word was “ALGEBRA.”
Last Friday she and her family went to Wenatchee where kids from around the state were competing to go to the National Spelling Bee. Montowski said she wasn’t nervous before going to the Wenatchee competition and believes she has inherited her spelling abilities from her parents Paul and Courtney Montowski.
“It comes naturally to me. My mom’s a really good speller and my dad’s almost as good,” said the fifth-grader, whose hobbies include soccer and dance and anything outdoors.
She takes dance – ballet and jazz — in Omak, she said. Her goal is to do something that involves singing, acting or dance and thinks she might like to teach those things to others when she grows up.
In order to practice for the competition in Wenatchee she says she had a “really big list” of spelling words. In addition to all the support from her family Montowski said the kids and staff at the elementary school have also been supportive.
Unfortunately, “ECTOMOLOGY,” in the first round at Wenatchee proved to be too much for the determined speller.
When asked if they gave her a definition of the word, she responds, “They did, but the definition had bigger words in it than the word I was asked to spell.”
After getting knocked out of the competition she says her parents and grandparents took her and her younger brother out for Chinese food.
This year’s setback doesn’t spell the end for Montowski, who plans on entering again next year.
“It was a good experience, it was fun,” she said.