La Conner middle-schooler a three-time regional spelling bee winner

March 26, 2018

MOUNT VERNON — Charity Jordan is headed back to the national spelling bee.

The La Conner Middle School eighth-grader won her third consecutive title Saturday morning at the 2018 Skagit Regional Spelling Bee.

“It feels surreal, I think,” Charity said after finishing first in a field of 30 elementary and middle school spellers at Skagit Valley College’s Phillip Tarro Theatre.

Charity’s father Bill Jordan jumped to his feet, hollering and applauding, when his daughter won.

“I’m proud of her,” he said. “She works harder than any other kid in this county.”

Charity is believed to be the fourth three-time winner of the regional bee, joining Christian Beckner (1985-87), Kyle Carothers (1991-93) and Melissa Chu (1994-96).

Charity’s latest title qualifies her for the Scripps National Spelling Bee from May 27 to June 1 in National Harbor, Maryland.

It will be a time for her to renew friendships she has made during the past two national bees.

“I’ve established some best friends, closer than a lot of people I’ve already met,” Charity said.

Tying for second after 12 rounds of spelling and one of vocabulary were Sabrina Stewart, an eighth-grader at Immaculate Conception Regional School in Mount Vernon, and Matthew Kettel, a seventh-grader at Edison Elementary.

Sabrina was second to Jordan in 2017, too.

“I knew she was going to be in it because she’s really good,” Sabrina said.

While some of the early-round words, such a bagel, denim and access, seemed relatively easy, Charity had to spell haversack and sitzmark in the first two rounds.

“They were pretty difficult,” she said. “I really didn’t expect them, but as soon as I heard them I knew them.”

Matthew and Sabrina had difficult words of their own.

While Matthew successfully spelled such words at virtuoso and carditis, Sabrina got past such words as pangolin and flexure.

“I had some words that weren’t on the (study) list,” Sabrina said. “I didn’t study them and I didn’t know them.”

With three spellers remaining in the 13th round, Matthew misspelled unmelodious and Sabrina misspelled Uralian.

That set the table for Charity to win another title.

She correctly spelled entomologist and de facto to become one of the few three-time champions in the 40-year history of the regional bee.

Charity said she spends two to three hours a day working on her spelling, despite also being involved in soccer, basketball, karate and 4-H.

“I’ve just done it for a lot of years,” she said. “It’s become a part of me.”

This year Charity added a spelling coach, who Charity communicates with by Skype for about an hour once a month. The coach is a high school sophomore in Colorado who is former national bee placer.

Now Charity will prepare for the national bee, where for the past two years she has failed to advance past the first day of live spelling.

“I really need to set my priorities and study as much as I can,” she said.

The regional bee included champions from schools in Skagit, San Juan, Island and north Snohomish counties.

The spellers varied in age from four third-graders to five eighth-graders.

“Academic sports really serve a purpose for kids not into baseball, basketball or track,” said bee director Kathy Boyd. “For the ones who really like books and science, this is a way they can excel.”

— Reporter Leah Allen contributed to this report