Southampton Road School wins and places in city spelling bee

WESTFIELD – After eight or nine rounds in the spelling bee in Dever Auditorium at Westfield State University on Thursday, the 16 original fifth grade finalists from eight elementary schools in Westfield had been whittled down to the final four. Moderator Adam Wright, past Kiwanis President and host of the Adam Wright Show on WHYN-AM 560, said in the five years he’d been doing the spelling bee, they’d never gotten this far.
The spelling bee was organized by The Circle K (Kiwanis) Club of Westfield State with assistance from the Volunteers in Public Schools (VIPS) and the Westfield State Department of Advancement, Alumni and University Relations.
Michael Knapik welcomed everyone to the event on Thursday and introduced the judges: George Delisle, Fr. Joseph Soltysiak, Bob Plasse and Leslie Stauffer. This year’s sponsor was MedExpress Urgent Care Center of Westfield.
Leading up to Thursday, more than 400 students took part in preliminary local school spelling bees at the following elementary schools: Abner Gibbs, Franklin Avenue, Highland Avenue, Munger Hill, Paper Mill, Southampton Road, St. Mary’s, and Russell.
The participating finalists were Samantha Adamtsev and Kaden Bush (Abner Gibbs), Gage Elkerkin and Armoni Hernandez (Franklin Avenue), Bryan Bolio and Solomiia Shevchuk (Highland), Aiden Longley and Kaelyn McEwan (Munger Hill), Jonathan Bulan and Rachel White (Paper Mill), Abigail Balser and Izmarizaray Reyes (Russell), Garrette Ondrick and Sara Whitelock (Southampton Road), and Hunter Chevalier and Julia Daley (St. Mary’s).
After a student misspelled a word, he or she exited the stage to applause from the audience, and was seated in the front row
The final four were Samantha Adamtsev of Abner Gibbs, Jonathan Bulan of Paper Mill, and Sara Whitelock and Garrette Ondrick of Southampton Road. The rules for the spelling bee then changed. If a student misspelled a word, the next student had to spell it correctly before the first student was ruled out.
The final four went several rounds with no mistakes, prompting Wright to switch to a list of harder words. Fourth place finisher Jonathan Bulan missed a word, as did third place finisher Samantha Adamtsev, and both exited the stage. It was down to two – Sara Whitelock and Garrette Ondrick, both of Southampton Road.
They went through “ambiguous,” “authentic,” “etiquette,” “recipient,” “propeller,” and “machinery,” before Sara missed a letter in “technique.” Garrette looked triumphant, and mouthed to someone in the audience that he knew this one, prompting laughter. Garrette then correctly spelled the word, and raised his hands in victory.
“It was exciting. He studied very hard for it. It was well-deserved,” said Garrette’s mother Jennifer Ondrick. “His favorite thing to do other than hockey is to read,” she added.
All sixteen finalists then returned to the stage, and medals were hung around their necks on ribbons. Third place finisher Samantha Adamtsev received two tickets to a Springfield Falcons game, as did all of the top three, and a $50 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble. Sara Whitelock received the tickets and a $75 gift certificate, and Garrette Ondrick received the tickets and a $150 gift certificate to Barnes & Noble bookstore, thus blending his two favorite pastimes.
Wright announced that Southampton Road School had the top finisher last year, and this year, had the first and second place finisher. A permanent plaque with names of the winners and their school is awarded to the top student’s school each year.
“I love seeing how enthusiastic the teachers are in getting their students prepared for this, and how excited the students are,” said School Committee member Diane Mayhew, who tries to attend the spelling bee every year. “It reaffirms the quality education they’re getting in the Westfield Schools.”

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