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Sycamore High School students win Altrusa community spelling bee

October 19, 2018

SYCAMORE – A high school team won the annual DeKalb County Community Spelling Bee for the first time Thursday night.

After correctly spelling the winning words “torpor” and “serviette,” Ben Keierleber, Grace Gruner and Clare Regelbrugge, Sycamore High School seniors and National Honor Society members, said they were excited about winning the bee. They also said they all shared the same emotion when they won: Shock.

“We knew there was steep competition, so we weren’t expecting to win, but we just wanted to have fun with it,” Gruner, 17, of Sycamore said.

The Sycamore High team, sponsored by Ideal Industries, received Bananagrams and Scrabble board games, the event’s traveling trophy, T-shirts and a pizza party after winning the bee, which was hosted by Altrusa International of DeKalb/Sycamore and sponsored by the Daily Chronicle.

A couple of dozen spectators watched 11 teams compete in the bee.

Hope Haven’s team, which was sponsored by Northwestern Medicine Kishwaukee Hospital, came in second and won a pizza party for being voted favorite team during the event.

Proceeds from the event are used to fund Altrusa scholarships awarded to area students and grants awarded to county libraries and classrooms in need of books and The Daily Chronicle Newspaper in Education Program, which provides free newspapers to classrooms.

Nancy Heal, past president and spelling bee chairwoman with Altrusa International of DeKalb/Sycamore, said the event raised $5,400 in team sponsorships alone for this year’s event, not counting uncounted raffle ticket and auction sales. She said this is the 19th year the organization hosted the fundraiser and that past members originally thought of the fundraiser idea as something unique to do and to draw people to the event.

“I like to see the spellers having fun and that makes it fun for everybody else,” Heal said.

The Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra team won the bee last year, but did not compete in this year’s event. Club 55 won the bee in 2014, 2015 and 2016.

Jack Reich, a member of this year’s Club 55 team, said he was happy to see the Sycamore High team win. He said he loves taking part in the event that features competitors of all ages.

“It’s great community spirit,” Reich, 71, of DeKalb said.