by Dennis Dalman
At the regional Spelling Bee, champion speller Alyssa Franzmeier of Sartell was nervous, but after she spelled “endemic” correctly, she felt a burst of confidence.
“I wasn’t really familiar with that word, so when I happened to spell it correctly, I was happy and felt very confident,” she said.
Alyssa’s confidence – not to mention her extraordinary knack for spelling – made her a champ in the recent contest. She was the first-place winner in the morning competition.
The second-place winner is eighth-grader Marissa Leeb of Sauk Rapids-Rice High School. The winner of the afternoon competition is Michelle Goodwin, an eighth-grader at Mora High School. Jenna Frost, an eighth-grader at Chisago Lakes Middle School, placed second.
Alyssa, an eighth-grade student at Sartell Middle School, is the daughter of Martin and Paul Franzmeier. She will compete March 1 at the Multi-Regional State Spelling Bee in Fergus Falls. The top spellers from all of the state’s regions will compete in that event. The winner will attend the prestigious Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., sometime in May.
The Spelling Bee at St. John’s University included spellers from schools in Region 7, a 10-county area from which 48 spellers competed at the regional level in two competitions – morning and afternoon. It was sponsored by the St. Cloud-based Resource Training and Solutions.
The morning contest involved 25 spellers, lasted 16 rounds and used 136 words. The afternoon event had 23 spellers, lasted 13 rounds and used 110 words.
Alyssa’s winning word was “menagerie,” which means “a collection of wild or unusual animals, especially for exhibition” or “an unusual and varied group of people.” After spelling “menagerie” correctly in the 16th round, the audience burst into applause. Alyssa received a champion trophy and a gift certificate for $30 to Barnes and Noble book store.
Ever since she was a student in St. Francis Xavier Elementary School, Alyssa has loved to read. Her passion for reading grew even more intense when her uncle gave her mother the first five books in the “Harry Potter” series. Her mother, also an avid reader, would read the books to Alyssa, who became completely entranced by the Potter saga. Then she began reading the books herself.
“I think that’s why Alyssa is such a good speller,” said her mother. “She can learn and retain knowledge so quickly. She can hear a song just once or twice and remember the words to it.”
Paula Franzmeier described her daughter as “an independent, responsible, good kid who gets excellent grades.”
More than anything, Alyssa loves books and reading and has a virtual library in her bedroom. Her brother, Jacob, a sixth-grader at Sartell Middle School, also loves reading and has competed in the school spelling bee for the last two years. Alyssa’s sister, Madison, a fourth-grader at St. Francis Xavier Elementary, is also a dedicated reader.
This is Alyssa’s fourth year in spelling bee competitions.
Their father, Martin, is not quite as crazy about reading as the rest of the family, but he can take pride in the fact that for years he would act as at-home coach when Alyssa was doing her spelling practice.
Alyssa is not a mere bookworm, however. In fact, she is a very well-rounded and outgoing girl who loves downhill skiing, drawing and music. She is a member of the St. Cloud State University-based Cantabile Girls Choir.
Alyssa is excited about the March 1 state competition and hopes to get another winning burst of confidence. She will definitely get a morale boost, knowing her parents, brother and sister and grandparents, David and Linda Franzmeier of Cambridge, will be in the audience rooting for her.