2017-03-02 / Life in Leelanau

Suttons Bay eighth grader wins Leelanau spelling bee

10 advance to regional competition
By Eric Carlson
Of The Enterprise staff


BEE CHAMPION Gabe Suitor, an eighth grader at Suttons Bay, spells his final word correctly. BEE CHAMPION Gabe Suitor, an eighth grader at Suttons Bay, spells his final word correctly. Suttons Bay Public School eighth grader Gabe Suitor won the 2017 Leelanau County Spelling Bee last week by correctly spelling the word “muskrat.”

The champion speller said he prevailed in the competition because he took the time to study practice lists he was provided by a teacher. Suitor emerged as the top speller of 35 students who were the top spellers in six Leelanau County public and private schools.

The son of Mark and Leslie Suitor of Elmwood Township, Gabe Suitor said it didn’t hurt that his folks promised to give him $50 if he won the bee.

Mark Suitor said the real reason his son won the bee probably has to do with the fact that Gabe has a “near photographic memory.”

Gabe Suitor won the bee in the fourth round of spelling after an eight-word duel with Leland Public School sixth grader Faith Fowler who fell on the word “loiter.”


LEELANAU COUNTY’S top spellers are, front from left, Northport Public School sixth grader Lydia Robertson, Pathfinder School 7th grader Mariah Moore, Suttons Bay eighth grader and bee champion Gabe Suitor, Leland Public School sixth grader and runner-up Faith Fowler, and Glen Lake sixth grader Maia Cooper, plus, second row from left, Glen Lake eighth graders Max Dilley, the alternate, and Cody Diesler. LEELANAU COUNTY’S top spellers are, front from left, Northport Public School sixth grader Lydia Robertson, Pathfinder School 7th grader Mariah Moore, Suttons Bay eighth grader and bee champion Gabe Suitor, Leland Public School sixth grader and runner-up Faith Fowler, and Glen Lake sixth grader Maia Cooper, plus, second row from left, Glen Lake eighth graders Max Dilley, the alternate, and Cody Diesler. Following the first round of spelling, only 16 of the 35 students participating remained in the competition. Spellers fell on words such as “prosthetic” and “laburnums” (a kind of poisonous shrub).

By the end of round two, only 10 spellers remained, falling on words like “patronymic” (a name derived from that of the father or his ancestor, usually by the addition of a prefix or suffix) and “syncope” (loss of consciousness resulting from arrest of the blood supply to the brain: a faint).

Eight of the final 10 spellers fell in round three, setting up the duel between Suitor and the runnerup, Fowler.

A fifth round was held to determine which of the final 10 would make it onto the six-speller team representing Leelanau County in the regional bee. A sixth round was held to determine who would remain as an alternate for the regional team.

Spellers from Glen Lake Community Schools did particularly well this year, with three qualifying to advance to a regional competition in Traverse City later this month.

The three Glen Lake spellers are sixth grader Maia Cooper, eighth grader Cody Deisler and eighth grader Max Dilley, who will serve as an alternate on the county team.

Northport Public School sixth grader Lydia Robertson also made it onto the county team as a primary. Pathfinder School seventh grader Mariah Moore made it into the top six as well.

The regional bee, involving students in the fifth through eighth grades from throughout northwestern lower Michigan, will be held Sunday, March 19, at 11 a.m. at the State Theatre in Traverse City. The winner of that competition will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in May.

The Leelanau Enterprise sponsors the county-level bee, providing a certificate to each of the spellers, paying for refreshments, and providing prizes for winners. The Traverse City Record-Eagle sponsors the regional bee as well as the trip to Washington, D.C. for the region’s top speller.

In addition to serving as overall coordinator of this year’s bee, Suttons Bay Public School principal Shawn Walbecq served as master of ceremonies. The pronouncer was The Honorable Larry Nelson, Judge of the 13th Circuit Court and Family Court.

Suttons Bay teacher Lori Wille served as statistician, and technology director Tim Smith operated the sound system. Food service director Mary Dingrando prepared refreshments.

Judges were Eric Carlson and Amy Hubbell of the Enterprise staff.

The St. Mary School in Lake Leelanau is slated to host the Leelanau County Spelling Bee in February 2018.

Return to top