MASON -- The phonetic skills of Mars Hill Academy seventh-grader Caleb White were put to the test during the recent Regional Scripps Spelling Bee, where he earned tenth place by spelling words like folksiness, provolone, and ersatz. He incorrectly spelled amphivorous in the eighth round.
"It feels exhilarating," he said of the thrill of competition. "My sister, Amanda, won the national (Association of Christian Schools International) spelling bee, and I want to follow in her footsteps."
Caleb of Liberty Twp. advanced to the regional contest by securing first place at the Highlander Spelling Bee in January, where he competed against students from Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. His winning word was kirtle.
"If I come across a word I don't know, I ask for the language of origin," he said. "Because languages structure words differently, it can give clues to the correct spelling."
Caleb spent about an hour each day studying the lists and drilling with his mother, Elaine. "Caleb is a great self-starter and does well studying on his own, especially when given new word lists to learn," she explained.
He also received help from MHA teacher Mr. Tim Giese, whose own sons Matthew and Levi advanced to national spelling bees in 2004 and 2011.
"Mars Hill has produced many talented spellers over the years, and Caleb has always enjoyed competing with these gifted students in his time at Mars Hill. Through the books that are assigned to be read and the high scholastic standards that are encouraged, he has become more disciplined and studious inin other subjects, too," Mrs. White said.
In fact, it was a shared love of spelling that brought the White family to MHA. "We met the Giese family at a regional spelling bee years ago when Caleb's sister, Amanda, was competing. Mr. Giese extolled the virtues of Mars Hill to us while offering spelling bee advice to our family. We paid a visit to the school and enrolled Amanda and then Caleb the following year," Mrs. White said. "We certainly owe Mr. Giese a debt of gratitude. With the help of his guidance and study materials – and some serious determination, Amanda won first place in the 2009 national ACSI Spelling Bee."
Grammar School Principal James Waldy said the school's unique approach to education has helped prepare students for contests like the spelling bee.
"From the intensive work on phonetic decoding of words to the culture of attention to detail that pervades MHA classrooms, our students appear to be uniquely equipped for competitions such as spelling bees," he said.
Mars Hill Academy is Cincinnati's only private, independent K-12 classical Christian school. One of only 42 schools nationwide accredited by the Association of Classical and Christian Schools (ACCS), Mars Hill Academy offers a proven educational method used for millennia to build sharp minds and a love for learning. For more information, please call 513-770-3223 or visit www.marshill.edu.
Mars Hill Academy seventh-grader Caleb White won tenth place in the recent Regional Scripps Spelling Bee. Caleb of Liberty Twp. advanced to the regional contest by securing first place at the Highlander Spelling Bee in January, competing against students from Ohio, Kentucky, and West Virginia. He is shown here with his parents Michael and Elaine White.