The winning word was “pharmacology.”
Jeremy Ferguson, a fifth grader from Mt. Vernon, Iowa, spelled his way to the top Saturday, Feb. 4, in the state spelling bee hosted by the Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication. Ferguson, 10, will now represent Iowa in a paid trip for him and one parent to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., May 27 to June 1.
When asked about the most exciting part of winning the bee, Ferguson said, “To get the chance to be the best speller in the entire country.”
The state bee, an event which was planned by Greenlee PRSSA members, was a “frightening, but exciting” experience for Ferguson.
Thomas Beell, Greenlee professor, hosted the event and said he was humbled by the competitor’s scholarship and ability to spell the words.
“They spelled words, to be honest, I have never heard before,” Beell said. “And they’re so earnest about it and were such good sports when they lost.”
Beell said he wished more Greenlee students came to the event because they would discover how they should be more concerned with spelling words correctly in his or her future media careers.
“To see the commitment that these young people make to get the word spelled correctly, I think would be a good influence on our students,” Beell said.
Laura Bucklin, president of the Iowa State University PRSSA, said a committee was put together to help plan and publicize the state bee for fifth and sixth grade spellers. She said it the event was a great way for students to gain experience in event planning and writing press releases which were sent out across the state.
With 13 competitors participating in the bee this year, Bucklin hopes more schools will participate in the future if Greenlee hosts the event again.
Jill Spiekerman, Greenlee lecturer and ISU PRSSA Chapter professional liaison, said Greenlee was approached last fall by Scripps to take on the Iowa final bee – an event that Spiekerman said has been great exposure to event planning and gaining hands-on experience for PRSSA students.
“It’s a natural sponsorship for [the Greenlee School] because we really do care about spelling,” Spiekerman said.