Students from Ignacio Middle School put on their thinking caps and tested their spelling skills during the first annual spelling bee. The event was hosted at the middle school on Friday, Feb. 6 with 20 students competing. Matthew Belleau, Brianna Henderson, and Jeffrey Brittain were declared the top spellers of the spelling bee, and now have a chance to compete in the national finals for a $30,000 prize. First place winner, Matthew Belleau, described his practice sessions. “A couple of times we did little tests,” he said. “When we practiced, we did lots of writing and shared them with the class. A couple of times my parents helped me, but I just continued practicing.” Belleau won the spelling bee with the word emphatically, and will be attending the state finals on March 14 in Denver. “I practiced a lot. I was going to drop out of the spelling bee, but I decided to stick through with it,” said second place winner, Brianna Henderson. “I misspelled honorarium, but overall it was fun. I will definitely see myself participating again.” Third place winner, Jeffrey Brittain, described some of the challenges that were encountered. “I have a tendency to switch vowels around, which is what got me out,” he said. “That would be my third spelling bee I got third place in, but I had fun regardless. I will definitely compete in more spelling bees in the future.” Jennifer Boniface who organized the spelling bee stated that any student is welcome to participate; they just need to show an advanced level of spelling as well as the driven desire to participate. The middle school is planning on holding more spelling bees in the future with the hopes of drawing in more students.