PLYMOUTH — The Ply-mouth High School Spell Bowl team is heading for competition at the state level Nov. 13.
The team, coached by PHS English teacher Amy Schmeltz, accumulated the third highest score in the state in regional competition for its class.
“I’ve never coached a team before. I couldn’t be more pleased with their progress,” Schmeltz said. Although this is her first team, Schmeltz is no stranger to Spell Bowl, having competed on the John Glenn Spell Bowl Team during her high school years. Ironically, she will now be in competition with her former coach Paul Hernandez, since the John Glenn team also qualified this year.
The Spell Bowl differs slightly from the traditional spelling bee in that the contestants write out the words rather than spelling them verbally.
Schmeltz said the students work as a team for only 45 minutes a week after school Wednesdays, but they work individually all the time, adding they receive a list of 3,500 words at the beginning of the season that could be used in the competition.
There are 18 members of the team, but only 10 will be competing at state. Schmeltz said the other team members will serve as alternates.
Coach Schmeltz gives a lot of credit for the students’ success to their former coaches at Riverside Intermediate and Lincoln Junior High.
“It gave them a lot of experience,” she said.
Amy Mahan, mother of team members Zach and Nate Mahan, is very proud of her sons and the whole team.
“They’ve worked so hard to get to this point,” Mahan said. “A few of us moms have been dreaming of this day since five of this year’s team went to the junior state competition when they were students at Lincoln Junior High in 2008. Former teachers have helped mold these super spellers.”
Mahan praised former coaches Paula Neidlinger, Sharon Scott, Melissa Deford and Jody Kriscunas for their influence in promoting competitive spelling in the lower grades.
PHS Principal Jim Condon shared his admiration for both the Spell Bowl team and the PHS Marching Band.
Condon said, “We at Plymouth High School are very proud of the accomplishments of both our marching band program as well as our Spell Bowl Team. Saturday, our Marching Band will compete at the semi-state level. If successful, this would mark this first time in the history of PHS that the marching band would qualify for the state championships.”
He added, “The PHS Spell Bowl team recently won the Northern Lakes Conference championship and followed that up with finishing second in regional competition.”
The state championship Spell Bowl competition will be held Nov. 13 at Purdue.
Condon expressed his belief in the extra-curricular offerings at PHS saying, “We consider participation in fine arts and academic competition to be an integral component to the well-rounded educational experience we offer our students. We appreciate the many hours of hard work that members of both the Band and Spell Bowl team have invested in their attempt to represent us well. Best of luck to both groups!”