Spelling champ

Michael Moore / Sentinel Staff

Claire Gemma, a 7th-grader at Keene Middle School, is going to the Scripps National Spelling Bee next month after placing sixth in the state bee.

Logophile, n. A lover of words.

That’s a word Claire Gemma certainly knows how to spell, and it’s a word that describes her, too. The Keene Middle School 7th-grader has been invited to compete in the 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee next month in Washington, D.C.

After winning the Keene Middle School Spelling Bee, Claire competed at the New Hampshire Union Leader Spelling Bee in Concord in February, where she took sixth place. In past years, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has only been open to champions of regional and state competitions, but this year the invitation was extended to other high-finishing competitors.

Claire said she became interested in the national spelling bee after winning the middle school’s competition for the first time last year.

“I’ve always kind of been good at spelling, and then I decided to participate in 6th grade and I won, so that’s kind of what got me interested in trying to make it to the national bee,” Claire said.

To prepare for the national competition, Claire studies as much as she can — usually between two and six hours on the weekends, she said. She studies the roots of words, looking at their etymology, prefixes and suffixes, and writes down words to help herself remember them. Her father, Leo Gemma, quizzes her on the spellings.

At the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May, Claire will compete in several preliminary elimination rounds, including a written vocabulary and spelling test. After the eliminations, about 50 students will advance to the final round, which will be televised.

Throughout the week, Claire will also have the opportunity to get to know the other students competing.

“I just want to have fun and meet new people who share the interest of the English language,” she said. “I’m just going to do the best I can and maybe go back next year if I can.”

Claire can’t decide on her favorite word — she’s learned so many — but said she loves to read and write and has gained new skills from participating in spelling bees.

“I always knew I was a pretty good speller, but now I feel like I’ve learned so many new words and new definitions,” she said. “It’s definitely helped me build good habits.”

On Saturday, May 5, the Keene High School Key Club will host its 10th annual Senior Citizen Dance. The free event features live music, refreshments, door prizes, souvenir photographs and the crowning of a king and queen. Attendees can dance to music from the ’30s, ’40s and ’50s in the Keene High School cafeteria, which will be decorated to match this year’s theme: Hollywood.

The dance is scheduled from 2 to 5 p.m. It is the main annual event of the KHS Key Club, which is a Kiwanis youth group dedicated to community service projects.

Applications for the Daniel M. Metcalf Scholarship Program are now open. The scholarship is named for Daniel M. Metcalf, a former principal of Vilas High School, which was in Alstead and closed in 1966.

The scholarship is open to students who attended Vilas Middle School in Alstead and have completed one or more years of education beyond high school. Applicants must be enrolled in an accredited college, university, vocational/technical trade school, junior college or graduate program.

Two recipients will be chosen based on academic achievement, a personal essay on educational and career objectives, extracurricular activities and any work experience.

Applications are available at Fall Mountain Regional High School, by calling Vilas Middle School at 835-6351 or by going online to https://bit.ly/2vsmenv. They must be mailed to Vilas Middle School at P.O. Box 670, Alstead, NH 03602, and postmarked by June 1.

The Fall Mountain Educational Endowment Association‘s second annual District Dash 5K Fun Walk/Run is scheduled for Sunday, April 29, at Fall Mountain Regional High School. Same-day registration will begin at 8 a.m., a fun run for kids will begin at 9 a.m. and the main event starts at 10 a.m.

The proceeds will be used for grants through the association to help fund programs like field trips, classroom events, enrichment activities and after-school clubs throughout the district.

Registration is $15 for Fall Mountain Regional School District students, $20 for adults and $15 per person for teams of four or more.

To register in advance, visit https://bit.ly/2JANKSP or contact Emily St. Pierre at 603-558-0340.

The Keene Rotary Club is offering interest-free college loans to students from the Keene area. Students who attended Keene High School, Monadnock Regional High School or the Monadnock Waldorf School and will begin their junior or senior year of college this fall are eligible to apply.

The club will award up to $15,000 in loans, with a maximum of $2,500 per individual loan. Loans can be used toward tuition, fees, books and related expenses during the 2018-19 school year, and are to be paid back without interest over four years following graduation.

Applications will be evaluated based on financial need and academic performance, and are due by June 15. To get an application, contact the Keene Rotary Club at info@keenerotary.org.

What’s going on in your school? Let us know! Education reporter Meg McIntyre can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1404, or mmcintyre@keenesentinel.com.

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