Michigan Eighth Grader Juggles Farm Work And Prep For Scripps National Spelling Bee

It’s Spelling Bee season, and several local spellers are gearing up for the main stage.

“I’m just glad that I was able to make it my last year of being able to,” said Luke LaValley.

Luke is an eighth-grader who lives in North Branch, Michigan. He is among eight contestants representing Michigan in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. this year.

“I don’t really know how to describe my emotions that well, just it felt good,” he said after finding out he was going to compete at nationals.

Luke said his passion for spelling just kind of happened.

“It just came naturally to me,” he said.

Living on a farm, Luke said when he’s not doing farm work, he’s practicing.

“I just go through my list and look them up on MerriamWebster.com and yeah, I write down like a very simplified definition of them and then I go on to the next word,” said Luke.

His favorite word is one that describes an ancient weapon.

“It’s atlatl … it’s just like an ancient thing that they used to throw spears with,” he said.

And while much of the spelling bee is a waiting game, sometimes there is a strategy unfolding in the background, with spellers listening for the words of the rounds and quizzing themselves.

“Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they get it wrong, and I’m just happy that I’m not that kid … and when it’s my word … I just spell it to the best of my ability,” he said.

This year’s competition will feature 234 spellers. Michigan has had one winner in the Bee’s history — and that was back in 1941.

The other spellers heading to nationals from the metro Detroit area are Angelina C. Gampala, Victor A. Andrews, and Lillian Rose Wallace.

Simplemost and the Scripps National Spelling Bee share a parent company, The EW Scripps Company.

How To Watch The 2022 Scripps National Spelling Bee

In its 94th year, the Scripps National Spelling Bee will be televised live on ION and Bounce, with LeVar Burton serving as the host. Both networks are available to cable, streaming and over-the-air television viewers free of charge (enter your zip code on the Bee’s website to find ION in your area). The competition will also be live-streamed on the Bee’s website. The televised semifinals will air on June 1, and the finals will air live on June 2. The events will be held near Washington, D.C.

For more information about the Scripps National Spelling Bee, visit spellingbee.com.

Scripps National Spelling Bee 2022 graphic
Scripps National Spelling Bee

By Alexandra Bahou, WXYZ