Regional champ Aurora Spisak makes Wright State proud at Scripps National Spelling Bee

Aurora Spisak, a rising eighth grader at Hadley E. Watts Middle School in Centerville, competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee after winning the Wright State University Regional Spelling Bee in March. (Photo by E. M. Pio Roda/Scripps National Spelling Bee)

As champion of the first Regional Spelling Bee hosted by Wright State University, Aurora Spisak earned a trip to Washington, D.C., to compete against other champs. While she came up short of claiming the overall title, she is a winner in the eyes of Wright State.

Aurora hopes to return to the competition next year when Wright State will return as host of another regional competition.

Aurora, a rising eighth grader at Hadley E. Watts Middle School in Centerville, was the Miami Valley representative at the Scripps National Spelling Bee from May 26-31 after out-spelling 53 of her fellow students from schools from Greene, Montgomery, Clark, Miami, Preble and Darke counties. Wright State sponsored and hosted the Regional Spelling Bee in the Apollo Room of the Student Union on March 6.

A travel voucher provided by the Wright State University Foundation assisted Aurora with travel to Washington D.C. for the national competition. She was knocked out in the third round when she misspelled marteline, a small hammer used by sculptors.

Aurora was a standout early in the Scripps National Spelling Bee event.

“The most impressive thing with Aurora was the Rule the Word Challenge preliminaries,” said Becca Webb, director of enrollment management and community engagement in the College of Liberal Arts.

Aurora’s team won the Rule the Word Challenge, a separate, bee-related contest, completing six puzzles in an impressive 51 minutes.

Wright State was approached about sponsoring and hosting the Regional Spelling Bee to fill a void in the region.

“Wright State was thrilled to be hosting the Scripps Regional Spelling Bee and to support our region’s learners in their love of language and admirable depth of knowledge,” said President Sue Edwards.

Webb added that the university agreed to host the spellers because “Wright State values education and encourages students to strive for success.”

Wright State’s spelling bee attracted students from 54 of the region’s 62 schools.

“It was so exciting and kind of humbling,” Webb said of the bee. “The students were impressive; the competition was three hours long. The top three spellers at the end went back and forth — Aurora had to work hard to earn the championship at Wright State.”

Webb and Elizabeth Turner, university events and program manager in the Office of the President, served as co-coordinators of the Wright State bee.

“Aurora was impressive, she was confident in her spelling, rarely asking for clarification for the words given,” Turner said. “In addition, she cheered everybody on, high-fiving them. She was gracious and kind.”

Aurora Spisak plans to continue learning words for next year’s spelling bee competition.

Turner added that as the bee progressed, “I made a point of learning her name. I wanted to make sure I found her parents so I could reach out to them because I was so impressed by her sportsmanship.

Aurora described her Wright State experience as really fun.

“There was a lot of nervousness, obviously, but everyone was nice,” she said.

After competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Aurora traveled to Huntsville, Alabama, to attend a weeklong space camp at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center.

“I want to be an astronaut,” she said. “There’s so much still to learn, everywhere.”

Aurora plans to continue learning words for next year’s spelling bee, where she will be eligible to try again for the big win.

Wright State plans to host next year’s regional bee, with hopes of collaborating with additional sponsors. “We’re looking forward to next year,” Turner said.

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