Spelling Bee for Homeschoolers Attracts Young Wordsmiths

January 22, 2016


by Jay Hobson

On Monday, Jan. 11, nine home-schooled students turned out to test their spelling acumen at the second annual Scripps-sponsored Bee held at the Searles Chapel and School in Windham.

Students were in the middle school age group:  Angela Howe, Elizabeth Howe, Lily Schneider, Jordan LaSalle, Lauren Wiegers, Ben Wiegers, London Webster, Grace Webster and Caitlin Marshall

Winner Lauren Wiegers, 12, who is from Hudson, went to the state competition last year and came in 17th out of 300 contestants, according to Sylvie Brikiatis of the Nesmith Library in Windham which coordinated the event.

“I was nervous, but not because of the people watching but because I was concentrating on what word I would be given,” Wiegers said.

Wiegers said that she is the age of a sixth grader but is doing seventh grade work.

Weigers’ mom, Kelly, said that her family has been homeschooling for the past nine years.

“It’s done very well for us.  We don’t do it because we feel it is superior academics although it is wonderful to have that small teacher/ student ratio, but for us it’s more to give (the student) the opportunity to learn what our beliefs are and why we have them and to prepare them for the world,” Kelly said.

Runner-up Lily Schneider, 10, also from Hudson, said that as a home-schooled student, she does “a lot of things.”

“I swim at the YMCA with other homeschoolers and I going to be in a play and I do art and music at the school,” Schneider said.

The students spelled words ranging from ‘cranny,’ ‘napkin’ and ‘arch’ to ‘polemic,’ ‘billiards’ and ‘stagflation.’

Young Adult/Youth Services Specialist Brikiatis said that it started when a parent had approached her to host a spelling bee for her daughter who was home schooled.

“As a home-schooled student, the daughter could compete at the school level but would not qualify for the state competition because she wasn’t officially from that school,” Brikiatis explained.  So we registered as a group for New Hampshire home-schooled children, and we have a registration process for the students.  It costs $140 for the group to register with the state, and we have a $10 registration fee to fund that fee.”

Brikiatis said that several would be participants couldn’t travel to Windham for the event.

“We are looking at moving the event to be more centrally located in the state to make it more accessible to students,” she said.