Ancestor. Cemetery. Pendulum. Descent. Decompose.

These are some of the words fourth through eighth graders spelled at the 2019 Tomah Area School District Spelling Bee.

Originally scheduled for Feb. 25, the spelling bee was rescheduled for March 6 after school was delayed two hours due to snow.

The competition turned out well despite the date change, said Tomah Middle School principal Steve Buss. He said 10 students couldn’t participate on the makeup date for various reasons.

“That’s been the only wrinkle,” Buss said. “Other than that, it’s ... run the same way it has in the past — we have the same facilitators; our kids are great.”

Competitor and sixth grade student Madison McMaster liked participating.

“I enjoyed it because it’s just something new, and you feel that you’ve accomplished something by doing it,” she said.

Fellow competitor and seventh-grade student Sahara Harvey said she participated just to have the experience. She’s glad she signed up.

“I liked having to go in front of people and spelling things,” she said.

Buss said the hardest part for him during the competition is watching a student spell a word wrong, because he knows the sixth- through eighth-graders well.

“It’s hard when they spell it wrong because you feel like you’re their parent, going ‘oh, you just spelled that one wrong,’” he said. “So you’re on the edge of your seat, too, as they’re slowly spelling the hard words, but it’s fun.”

McMaster and Harvey are also part of the top seven who will advance to the district competition in Westby March 19.

McMaster said she’s conflicted about the next competition and hopes to do her best.

“It’s exciting and nerve-racking at the same time,” she said.

Drishti Patel is a sixth-grader and another member of the top seven, and this will be her second time attending the district competition. She took part in the spelling bee because she enjoys spelling and her parents encouraged her. She’s excited to attend the district event again.

“I want to do my best and be better than last year.”

Buss appreciates the opportunity that Spelling Bee gives to students.

“Our district does a nice job of not focusing all on sports,” he said. “We have so many different things whether it be our math competitions or spelling competitions, heritage fair competitions; this is just one more way for us to recognize students for the great things that they do.”

He enjoys watching students who venture from their regular classroom routine.

“This is something that’s a volunteer event for every classroom in grades four through eight, and we just love to see parents continue to encourage their child − whether it’s a Spelling Bee or something else − to continue to try those opportunities.”

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Meghan Flynn can be reached at


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