Beeing a champion
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It took six rounds, but Genae Kaftan beat 71 other competitors to take the title as Hill County Spelling Bee Champion for the second year in a row. In a seventh round, the homeschooled sixth-grader correctly spelled the word "credentials" to take the crown. Last year, she beat out her local competition and tied for second in the state bee. She exuded confidence throughout the rounds, clearly ennunciating words to the judges. After the first round, the original 72-competitor pool was cut nearly in half. Only 12 students competed in the third round. By round five, only the top-three finishers remained. "I did a lot of studying," Kaftan said. She also prayed a lot, she said, and credited God with her success. Spelling is one of her favorite subjects, but she also likes history. "It's just fun to spell words," she said. "If you don't know how to spell, you can't really write or read or anything Like that," said Havre Middle School eighth-grader Bethany Ordiniza, who finished second. To third-place finisher Quinn Spinler from North Star, spelling is important. "Because it proves that you're literate," the eighth-grader said. If someone can't spell properly, others might consider him less smart. He worked hard over the summer to get better at spelling, he said. "I'm delighted that the students are serious about it," said Shirley Isbell, Hill County superintendent of schools. The teachers also deserve credit for taking the time to show students how important spelling is and to help them with it, she added. This year's bee didn't last as long as ones in years past, Isbell said, but it was still a good one and ran smoothly. Kaftan said she's excited about competing in the state bee in Billings March 27. "Oh, yes. I would love to win," she said.