May 15, 2015

MASON, OH – Kyle Chu's hand shoots up in his class at Mars Hill Academy, and his teacher already knows what he's going to ask.

“If Kyle hears a word he’s unfamiliar with, he always wants to know the origin of the word,” said Chu’s Latin and Old Testament teacher, Dr. Christopher Jero.

The seventh-grader's fascination with etymology helped him clench first place at the Association of Christian Schools International’s 2015 National Spelling Bee, held May 2 in Plano, Texas.

Chu was able to spell his winning word, ‘daedal,’ because he had studied the root of the word in Dr. Jero's Latin class earlier this year. His knowledge of word origins also helped him spell some words that were not on the published lists, such as “canicular” and “periwinkle.”

Chu was one of 47 fifth through eighth grade students who qualified to participate in the ACSI national bee. Throughout the school year 14,000 elementary and junior high students from ACSI member schools participated in district and regional spelling competitions to qualify for the national event.

“When Kyle studies the spelling lists, he loves to see words he recognizes from Latin or science classes,” said his father, Neal Wilson, who has drilled Kyle in ‘north of ten thousand words’ over the years. “Enticing students to love the written and spoken word is just one way Mars Hill develops life-long learners.”

Mars Hill’s unique classical curriculum, in which students study Latin from fourth through seventh grades, has produced three ACSI national spelling bee winners. Brothers Matthew and Levi Giese, sons of Mars Hill fifth grade teacher, Mr. Tim Giese, are former ACSI champions as well.

“I love telling stories to my students about the national bees, because it gets them excited to do their best,” said Giese. “My son Matthew came in tenth place in the Scripps National Bee as well, so I know how much hard work and perseverance it takes to make it that far. Kyle has the talent and the work ethic to make it happen, and we are incredibly proud of him.”

Chu has participated in three ACSI regional bees, and two national bees. Last year, he tied for 24th in the national bee, missing the unpublished word “virucidal.”

“I never thought I’d win the national bee, but now I know anything can happen,” said Chu. “It’s not necessarily just by your own hard work, but also the providence of God.”

Besides etymology, Chu, who lives in Cincinnati, enjoys piano, running, playing basketball, and hanging out with friends.

Photo: Mars Hill Academy celebrates seventh grader Kyle Chu of Cincinnati’s first place title at the ACSI National Spelling Bee held May 2 in Plano, Texas. Kyle’s winning word was “daedal.”