Berkshire Middle School student Ella Limbaugh is the Oakland Schools Scripps Regional Spelling Bee winner. The school media center dictionary displays the winning word: hennin, which is a cone-shaped 15th-century headdress.

Berkshire Middle School student Ella Limbaugh is the Oakland Schools Scripps Regional Spelling Bee winner. The school media center dictionary displays the winning word: hennin, which is a cone-shaped 15th-century headdress.

Photo by Brandy Baker


‘Bee’ prepared, says spelling champ

By: Linda Shepard | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published March 14, 2019

 Limbaugh, 13, reads a congratulation card from teacher Christy Booth.

Limbaugh, 13, reads a congratulation card from teacher Christy Booth.

Photo by Brandy Baker

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BEVERLY HILLS — After her recent Oakland Schools Scripps Regional Spelling Bee win, Berkshire Middle School eighth-grader Eleanor Limbaugh said it all comes down to studying.

“We had a list of words,” she said. “I don’t do flash cards. I write out each word five or six times. My advice is to know what works for you. Utilize that.” 

The 13-year-old said her love of reading also helped her ace the regional bee, held Feb. 23 at Oakland Schools’ main campus in Waterford. She correctly spelled the word hennin for the win, while Vikram Goddla, a seventh-grader from Detroit Country Day School in Beverly Hills, was the runner-up.

“When it got down to the last 10 people, I thought, ‘OK, I can do this,’” Limbaugh, called Ella by friends and family, said. “I read a lot of books, so I have a lot of exposure towards words. I think that’s part of it. I also didn’t expect to win, so I didn’t put a lot of pressure on myself. I tend to get nervous. I’m a nervous person.”

Good spellers run in the family. Mom Rosemary Limbaugh still has the dictionary she took home after winning her school spelling bee.

“We are a reading family,” Rosemary Limbaugh said. “Her little sister loves to read. We like words.”

Eighty fifth- through eighth-graders from all over Oakland County competed in the regional bee. The winner received a trophy, prizes and an automatic invite to the Scripps National Spelling Bee May 26-31 in Maryland.

The Berkshire Middle School spelling bee is just in its third year, said enrichment teacher Christy Booth. “Just that long, and we are sending someone off to the big time,” she said.

Eleanor Limbaugh said she makes time to study for the bee between practicing the viola and appearing in her school play, “Annie,” as the French maid.

The study word list for the national spelling bee is approximately 427,000 words long, she said.

“I’m still working out how to study for the nationals — it’s different from regionals,” she said. “I’ll write the words out by origin and study the rules. There are so many more words.”

According to organizers, the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee champion will emerge from an initial pool of 11 million school spelling bee participants.

The National Spelling Bee began in 1925, when nine newspapers joined together to host a spelling bee.

According to organizers, ESPN will broadcast the competition on its family of channels.

“The competition is fierce. The words are tough. But if anybody can do it, it’s this one,” Booth said about her student.

Rosemary Limbaugh described her daughter as a self-directed student.

“She enjoys school very much,” she said. “All the credit for this goes to her.”

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