AYER -- Who needs spell check? As evidenced by the recent elementary school spelling bee, not a lot of students at the Page Hilltop School! In mid-February, two delegates from each fourth- and fifth-grade classroom assembled on the Ayer-Shirley Regional High School auditorium's stage to participate in this academic competition.

Earlier in the month, each of the classrooms involved held a mini spelling bee or spelling test to decide which students would move onto the school's bee.

"I really like to read and I love to spell, so I was really happy to be in the bee," said fourth-grader Katrina Kidder.

On the morning of the bee, the students sat in chairs on the stage waiting to show their spelling prowess. All of the school's third-, fourth- and fifth-graders were in the audience, along with some first- and second-grade classes and many supportive family members.

Principal Fred Deppe emceed the event, while Ayer-Shirley Assistant Superintendent MaryBeth Hamel announced the words, and Page Hilltop Assistant Principal Karen DeWitt was a judge, along with Page Hilltop teachers Tara Bozek and Brenda Rolfe.

The early rounds saw contestants spelling words such as shamrock, nacho, commute and glimpse. The words got progressively more challenging in later rounds, with words such as munchkin, marshmallow, defiantly and audience. In the end, there was a clear winner in fourth-grader William Macdonald, who triumphed with the word "reign.


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" After dueling back and forth with very difficult words, fifth-grader Jeremy Fish was named runner-up and Christopher Govang came in third.

"I really love spelling," said Macdonald. When asked when he knew he was a really good speller, he answered, "I knew in second grade with my teacher Mrs. Lynch. I won the second grade spelling bee, so I think I was a good speller then." Macdonald did credit his mother by saying that she is a very good speller as well.

Deppe was very impressed with all of the students who participated in the bee. "We need to celebrate the talents and achievements of our students," Deppe said. "This is a way to allow our strong spellers to shine in front of their community. We are all very proud of them."

Due to his win, Macdonald was able to represent his school at the Regional Spelling Bee held in Leominster.