PRINCETON — The word "chronic" made Jerrey Nelson, an eighth-grader at Princeton Christian Academy (PCA), a two-time consecutive winner at the annual Bureau County Spelling Bee Wednesday, Feb. 15.
Nelson defeated 15 other junior high contestants in 12 rounds of the bee.
This year's runner-up was Trevor Petzel, a sixth-grader at Ladd Grade School. Petzel was beat out in Round 11 when he misspelled "mesa."
Following the contest, Nelson was feeling "pretty amazing."
"I was really nervous. I wasn't expecting to win again. I thought it would only be a one time thing, like beginner's luck. But I made it again," she said.
Nelson said her strategy was knowing the origin of language for each word, which helped her remember the spellings.
Nelson will now move on to compete in the Journal Star Grand Spelling Bee on Friday, March 17, in Peoria.
She said she's hoping to make it further than Round 2, which she did last year.
"I'm working on memorization and using rhythms to help me with the words," she said.
PCA Vice Principal and language arts teacher Marty Kiser accompanied her students to Wednesday's bee. Kiser talked about the importance of teaching spelling these days, especially with the abbreviated spellings that are being used more commonly through texting and social media.
"I think spelling is dying, and it makes me sad," she said.
Penny Petzel, mother of Trevor, was also there to congratulate her son. She said she was proud of how he hung on for 11 rounds. She said Trevor does most of his studying on his own and believes his love for reading is what makes him a great speller.
This year's bee was held at Bureau County Metro Center and sponsored by Bureau, Henry and Stark Regional Office of Education and Peoria Journal Star.
Other contestants who were champions at their schools prior to attending the countywide spelling bee included:
• Matthew Berry, a seventh-grader at Bureau Valley North.
• Jasmine Valadez, a seventh-grader at Dalzell Grade School.
• Lily Orlandi, an eighth-grader at Dalzell Grade School.
• Tanner Englehaupt, a seventh-grader at Ladd Grade School.
• Kaleb Cain, an eighth-grader at Malden Grade School.
• Kaden Baker, a seventh-grader at Malden Grade School.
• Eliana Gale, a seventh-grader at Princeton Christian Academy.
• Jaidyn Bass, an eighth-grader at Princeton Elementary School.
• Andrew Sawyer, a seventh-grader at Princeton Elementary School.
• Dylan Couch, an eighth-grader at DePue School.
• Alyssa Lopez, a seventh-grader at DePue School.
• William Gross, a seventh-grader at Bureau Valley South.
• Jackson Heiden, an eighth-grader at John F. Kennedy School in Spring Valley.
• Juan Martinez, an eighth-grader at John F. Kennedy School in Spring Valley.
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