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District Spelling Bee goes 27 rounds

The 14th Annual District Spelling Bee went into "double overtime" on Wednesday at Elizabeth Middle School before seventh grader Anika Laws from Legacy Academy prevailed. 

Fourth graders Adelaide Heirendt, from Running Creek Elementary School, placed second, and Isaac Tobler, from Singing Hills Elementary, took third place in a hard-fought war of words. 

Several students remained in the competition after running through the entire word list from which they all studied, so parent and longtime bee coordinator Kristen Crookshanks and pronouncer Bret McClendon, principal of Elizabeth High School, went to the emergency list, which students had not seen. That list would truly test their ability to work out how words are spelled beyond those they had been able to memorize. But several spellers blew through that list, too, necessitating a seldom-used backup emergency list. 

Just before running out of words on that list, too, Anika outlasted the competition. In the end the group of 12 super spellers took nearly two hours to complete 27 rounds in their marathon bee. By winning the district bee, Anika qualified to participate in the Colorado State Spelling Bee. 

The contestants were from four schools: 


  • Maddie Baker
  • Alex Aviles
  • Lucy Heap
  • Coach: Krystal Endo

Legacy Academy

  • Olivia Benson
  • Charlie Norton
  • Anika Laws
  • Coach: Jessica Benson

Running Creek

  • Nolan Cimino
  • Adelaide Heirendt
  • Charley Hamner
  • Coaches: Candice Baker, Britney VanEpps

Singing Hills

  • William Hoffman
  • Isaac Tobler
  • Kate Lee
  • Coach: Kaitlyn DeCristino

Crookshanks and McClendon were joined by a trio of judges: Elizabeth Police Chief Jeff Engel, Elizabeth School Board Secretary Mary Powell, and Elizabeth School District Data Specialist Shellie Scobee.

District spelling bee top three placers

Eleven of the 12 participants at the district spelling bee sit on the stage at EMS

The final two contestants focus as the spelling bee nears its end