Centerville student wins spelling bee, heads to nationals

A Centerville eighth grader, Madeline Thomas, was victorious in the Dayton Area Spelling Bee this month and qualified for an all-expense-paid trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., at the end of May.

Thomas,an eighth-grader at Centerville’s Tower Heights Middle School, correctly spelled Afghan, a type of blanket many people have around the house, and that turned out to be the word that earned her a trip to the nation’s capital after finishing ahead of 14 other students at the spelling be held at Sinclair Community College.

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“She won other competitions on her road to regional success,” according to Sarah Swan of Centerville City Schools. “The top two spellers from each of the sixth through eighth grade English Language Arts (ELA) classes at Tower Heights competed in a school-wide bee, which she won. She also won the school bee last year but was eliminated during the regional bee.”

To prepare for the spelling bees, Thomas said she studied the school spelling list and then practiced spelling words from Merriam-Webster’s Spell It! website, which has more than 700 words organized by language of origin.

“Learning the words obviously helps me write essays and do well in my ELA class, especially when we study word stems,” she said. “It has also helped me be more consistent in studying for other things.”

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Thomas, who wants to be a professor someday, stays involved in her school and community. She is a member of the Tower Heights Science Olympiad team, band and jazz band and volunteers at her church.

Kristen Raisch, Thomas’ ELA teacher for the past three years, is excited to see her compete on the national stage.

“I appreciate many things about Madeline, but the qualities that stand out to me the most are her intellectual curiosity and her internal motivation,” Raisch said. “She is a self-starter that will actively seek out opportunities to challenge herself. Despite her many innate talents, Madeline is also very receptive to feedback. She is not shy about asking for book recommendations or suggestions on how to improve a piece of writing. She is an engaged learner that consistently strives to make her work the best it can be.”

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