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Experienced spelling bee participant earns district title

In his fourth consecutive year qualifying for the Burnsville-Eagan-Savage School District 191 Spelling Bee, Chance Persons won the championship on Dec. 14 after 21 rounds that included more than 200 words. 

District 191 Spelling Bee champion Chance Persons (left) and runner-up Brandon Vi show off their trophies with Superintendent Joe Gothard.

Chance, now an 8th grader at Metcalf Junior High School in Burnsville, placed 5th in the district bee when he was in 5th grade and placed 7th as a 6th grader. Last year, he was the runner-up and was also among 50 metro area students who qualified to compete in the 2015 Minnesota Seven County Metro Area Regional Spelling Bee in March. 

"I've got a good memory," said Chance. "If I've seen a word, I remember how to spell it." He also did some practicing beginning a week before the bee. 

Brandon Vi, an 8th grader at Eagle Ridge Junior High, was runner-up this year while Aliya Butler, an 8th grader at Nicollet Junior High, placed third. 

They were among 31 students in grades 5-8 who competed in this 32nd annual district spelling bee: 

  • Edward Neill Elementary: Matthew McGuire and Rayanna Tanner-Williams 
  • Gideon Pond Elementary: Calvin Hume and Huda Mohamed
  • Harriet Bishop Elementary: Penny Best and Mansfield Yiu
  • Hidden Valley Elementary: Abdul Abas and Tristan Lanska
  • M.W. Savage Elementary: Siham Ibrahim and McKenzie Weller
  • Rahn Elementary: Evan Page and Aidan Tobey
  • Sky Oaks Elementary: Ashha Hassan and Sydney Phan
  • Sioux Trail Elementary: Tyler Haddorff and Anas Mohamed
  • Vista View Elementary: Luis Mena and Bryce Soberski
  • William Byrne Elementary: Keira O'Connor and Ellie Scheldberg
  • Eagle Ridge Junior High: Eric Froebe, Meaghan Hasse and Brandon Vi 
  • Metcalf Junior High: Eloisa Carrasco, Chance Persons and Jordan Smith
  • Nicollet Junior High: Aliyah Butler, Hannah Lake and Lauren Pettis
  • St. John's: Molly Elmer and Cecelia Kelch

The event began with Superintendent Joe Gothard presenting medals to every participant in recognition of them being spelling champs at their schools. Gothard served as a judge along with Shannon McParland, principal at Sioux Trail Elementary, and Jeffrey Leach, associate principal at Nicollet Junior High. Jim Condon, a teacher at Edward Neill Elementary School, served as pronouncer. Jennifer Bohr, a district instructional coach, coordinated the spelling bee activities. 

You can view the spelling bee on the district's website at and on educational TV channel 18. 

Posted: Tuesday, December 15, 2015 - 15:14