Killdeer Elementary School student takes third at North Dakota State Spelling Bee

The North Dakota State Spelling Bee featured a bronze medal performance by area student Grace Fritel, a sixth-grader from Killdeer.

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Champion Luna Gasevic, a seventh grader at Ben Franklin Middle School in Fargo, left, second place Chinmay Gopi, an eighth grader from the same school, third place Grace Fritel, Killdeer sixth grader and Matthew Hamilton, a Bottineau seventh grader.
Contributed / North Dakota Spelling Bee

BISMARCK — The brightest young spellers from across North Dakota converged at the Bismarck EventCenter on Monday, Mar. 20, for the highly anticipated 2023 North Dakota State Spelling Bee. From a field of 93 top spellers representing 48 counties, Luna Gasevic, a seventh-grader from Fargo, emerged victorious for the second year in a row, earning a trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. While Luna claimed the grand prize, Grace Fritel, a Killdeer Elementary School 6th grader, made her mark, securing third place with an impressive showing.

Fritel's prizes include a trophy, bronze medal, Barnes & Noble gift card and wireless headphones.

She would not be the only southwest North Dakota student to shine in Bismarck, as South Heart 8th grader Shayden Moe also competed among the top finishers, placing 20th.

The competition began in the morning with all spellers taking part in a 50-word written spelling test, followed by a 20-question, multiple-choice vocabulary test. Students with the top 25 scores advanced to the oral session in the afternoon. This year, with ties, 26 students advanced to the oral rounds.

Roughrider State Spelling Bee Director is Miranda Streifel commended the competition in this year's competition.


"Every speller competing today not only won their school spelling bee, but was also a top-finisher in their county spelling bee. It is such an incredible accomplishment to even make it to the State Spelling Bee, let alone qualify for the finals," Streifel said.

The event was made possible with support from several state entities, including the North Dakota Association of County Superintendents, North Dakota Newspaper Association, Minot Junior Golf Association and Basin Electric Power Cooperative.

Luna emerged as the winner after correctly spelling the word "vaseline," beating the 25 other competitors to claim the grand prize, which includes a trip to Washington, D.C., during the week of Memorial Day, to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The trip comes with airfare and lodging for two, an expense allowance and several other awards from Scripps.

Beth Helfrich, Executive Director of the North Dakota Newspaper Association, called the competition "priceless."

"It was truly an honor being part of the ND State Spelling Bee competition. To hear the pronunciations and correct spellings of these English words by brilliant students from around the state was priceless! These students are making a significant impact in their communities through lifelong learning with the Spelling Bee!"

The National Spelling Bee was launched in 1925 when several prominent American newspapers joined forces to host it in an effort to boost literacy through rigorous competition. Scripps gets the words for their Bee from the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

Jason O’Day is a University of Iowa graduate, with Bachelor’s Degrees in Journalism and Political Science. Before moving to Dickinson in September of 2021, he was a general news reporter at the Creston News Advertiser in southwest Iowa. He was born and raised in Davenport, Iowa. With a passion for the outdoors and his Catholic faith, he’s loving life on the Western Edge. His reporting focuses on Stark County government and surrounding rural communities.
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