Contest leaves audience and competitors spellbound in Peru

The North Country has a new champion, one who can spell her way to success.

Sixth-Grader Leah Rini of Beekmantown Central School District was named the Grand Champion at the 22nd Regional Spelling Bee, an event held each year by Champlain Valley Educational Services.  

Rini competed against 40 other students from nine districts in Clinton and Essex Counties.  The event this month happened on the stage of Peru Central School District.  The competing students had all previously won spelling bees in their respective schools and represented the top spellers in grades four through eight.

“Winning Grand Champion at the Regional Spelling Bee shows that the student has put in a lot of time studying and enjoys competition,” said Michelle Lawrence, CVES administrator for instructional services.   “To be successful, the student has had a lot of support from their family and their home school district. We are incredibly proud of all the students that are competing. It takes courage to go on stage and compete like this.”

The other winners this year:  Sixth-grader Mitchell Durocher from Northeastern Clinton was the first runner-up.  From Peru, Charlotte Isecke won Grade 8 Champion, and Vincenzo Francesconi won Grade 7 Champion. Plattsburgh student Madeleine Riedell is the Grade 5 Champion. The Grade 4 Champion was awarded to Mason Peck from Boquet Valley.

The Master of Ceremonies this year was Spotlight producer Paul Larson of Mountain Lake PBS.  This marked his first time to host the event.

Thanks to Rini’s win, her home district of Beekmantown will have the honor of hosting the regional bee next year.

In past years the Grand Champion would advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C., but that didn’t happen this year due to funding.  CVES officials say they are seeking additional sponsors for next year, to help finance the Scripps program and be able to cover the expenses to send the winner to the national contest. 

CVES thanks Mountain Valley Federal Credit Union, PlattCo Corporation, the Boquet Valley Federation of Teachers, Chazy PTO, Rulf’s Orchards, Chazy Orchards, Northern Insuring Agency, SeaComm, TwinState Technologies, UFirst Federal Credit Union and Schluter Systems for sponsoring the event.

Photos by Rasheed Trombley and Vega, CVES Learning Hub