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Braeden LaRoche claims 2020 district spelling bee

Published on Friday, Jan. 24, 2020

Braeden LaRoche claims 2020 district spelling bee

BCSD photo / Monica Kreber

Braeden LaRoche, eighth-grader from Daniel Island School, claimed this year’s title in the Berkeley County School District annual spelling bee.

The bee, held Jan. 23 at Cane Bay High, started off with 38 students from across the district. Students tackled words like “gladiatorial”, “disproportionate,” “diaphoresis”, “gratingly” and “balderdash.”

While competing, students are allowed to ask for the definition and the origin of the word they are spelling, and can also ask to hear it in a sentence.

After roughly two hours, the bee finally came down to LaRoche and Keil Dane Bongalonta, eighth-grader from Westview Middle.

Coming down to two students, the rules change a bit: students are required to spell two words correctly. In his last turn, LaRoche nailed “realtor” and then “fratority.”

LaRoche and Bongalonta are two out of the top 14 student spellers who will head to the regional spelling bee, Spellbound!, in March (see full list below), with an opportunity to advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

LaRoche said it felt good to win.

“It’s definitely something I was aiming for and something that I achieved,” he said.

LaRoche said he started studying the word list as soon as it was posted. The word list is about 28 pages long, he said.

He said he thinks reading a lot has helped make him a good speller.

Being an eighth-grader, this was LaRoche’s last chance to participate in the spelling bee. His advice to younger students: “Try to be successful but don’t focus too much on that sort of stuff.”

Braeden LaRoche claims 2020 district spelling bee

BCSD photo / Monica Kreber: Third-place winner Avery Womble, second-place winner

Keil Dane Bongalonta and first-place winner Braeden LaRoche

The students who will proceed onto Spellbound! are as follows:

Elliott Lord, eighth grade, College Park Middle

Tyler Johnson, seventh grade, College Park Middle

Teaundra Thompson, eighth grade, Berkeley Middle

Mia Stone, sixth grade, Marrington Middle School of the Arts

Ayanna Simmons, eight grade, Sedgefield Middle

Donovan Gadsden, eighth grade, Westview Middle

Daniel Lundblad, seventh grade, Cane Bay Middle

Sebastian Rendon, eighth grade, Marrington Middle School of the Arts

Kenneth Howell , sixth grade, Cross Elementary

Liana Kim, seventh grade, Marrington Middle School of the Arts

Makayla Hampton, eighth grade, St. Stephen Middle

Avery Womble, seventh grade, Hanahan Middle

Keil Dane Bongalonta, eighth grade, Westview Middle

Braeden LaRoche, eighth grade, Daniel Island School

Monica Kreber