February 19, 2020

Ben St. Hilaire Spells His Way to Washington, D.C.

On February 5th, 2020, Ben St. Hilaire successfully spelt “contemptuous,” at the Central Minnesota Regional Spelling Bee, hosted by Resource Training & Solutions to advance to the Multi-Regional State Spelling Bee. On February 18th, 2020, Ben St. Hilaire successfully spelt “habitué”, pronounced ha bicha wa, to become the Multi-Region State Champion and earn an all-expense paid trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.


Ben, a 7th grader from Saint John’s Preparatory School in Collegeville, comments that “sometimes spelling is fun if you get the right words, but it’s not fun when you don’t understand the word.” The words turned out to be fun for Ben as he worked his way through nine rounds of difficult words against nineteen other talented spellers from throughout the state. A few additional words that Ben mastered include “realgar,” “paraquat,”and “curmudgeon.”  


Ben gives his Mom credit for helping him study for the spelling bees. But Ben also takes time for orchestra and knowledge bowl, and he likes to read and play games.

Reese Magnuson, an 8th grader from Glencoe-Silver Lake, earned first runner-up honors as she successfully spelled “tapetum” and “hinoki”in addition to other very challenging words.

All twenty spellers continued to demonstrate talent and poise as they worked their way through the language of origin, alternate pronunciations, and definitions. Susan Ward, the State Spelling Bee Coordinator, commented, “I was certainly not the only person impressed by the talents of these young students. The entire audience was amazed as they witnessed these students spelling words many had never heard of. The state bee is very exciting but it is also bittersweet because we can send only one speller to the National Bee. All twenty spellers would represent our state very well.”  


The Multi-Region State Spelling Bee is sponsored by Lakes Country Service Cooperative, Fergus Falls Region; Northeast Service Cooperative, Mt. Iron Region; Northwest Service Cooperative, Thief River Falls Region; Resource Training and Solutions, Sartell Region; and Southwest/West Central Service Cooperative, Marshall Region.  


A special guest this year was Ryne Kisch, the 2009 State Champion who represented Minnesota in the 2009 Scripps National Bee. Ryne shared some encouraging words to the spellers as well as some highlights from his participation in the National Bee. His best advice to the champion is to participate in all the fun activities during Bee Week and enjoy it all.


We all send our best wishes to Ben as he advances to the National Bee!