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Fallen Timbers 5th grader wins area spelling bee with ‘crambo’

Prospective challenger speaks at local St. Patrick’s Day lunch


Samantha Schofield of Fallen Timbers Middle School gets a hug from her mother, Janet Schofield, after winning the Blade Northwest Ohio Championship Spelling Bee at Owens Community College.

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For Samantha Schofield, endless nights of studying spelling words paid off Thursday when she won the 2013 Blade Northwest Ohio Championship Spelling Bee.

Young Schofield, 11, competed against 53 students from nine city regions in a three-hour spell-off at Owens Community College’s Center for Fine and Performing Arts.

It was with the spelling of crambo — defined as an ineffectual, silly, or second-rate rhyme — that she took home the title of winner.

She will receive an expenses-paid trip to Washington for the National Spelling Bee at the end of May.

She also received a Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, a $100 savings bond, and a plaque.

The event was sponsored by The Blade and the Ohio Lottery.

Young Schofield, a fifth grader at Fallen Timbers Middle School, spent a lot of time studying with her mother, Janet Schofield, for her school’s preliminary spelling bee, which she won.

PHOTO GALLERY: Schofield w-i-n-s spelling bee

Ms. Schofield said her daughter would study the words for about an hour before bed, until her eyes were on the edge of sleepiness.

When she started spelling words wrong, they knew it was time to go to sleep.

Young Schofield spelled the following words correctly before advancing to the championship round: mongoose, conjecture (an unproven proposition), buccaneer (a pirate), ocelot (a wild cat), sachem (an Indian chief), and bethesda (a chapel).

In a tough championship round that lasted more than 30 minutes, she competed against Matthew Lichtinger, a 13-year-old seventh grader who attends St. Michael's Middle School in Findlay.

Both missed several words throughout the lengthy championship rounds, including acacia, jicama, coterie, Ebenezer, and more.

But after 20 words, young Schofield found the right letters and the bee came to a close.

As a second-place finisher, young Lichtinger received a runner-up plaque and other prizes.

His parents, who were on stage as he was presented his award, said they were proud of his achievement.

“It was a long battle at the end,” his father, Vince Lichtinger said.

His son studied a lot of the more complicated words, which they hoped would help prepare him for such a situation.

“We tried to do it daily,” his mother, Michele Lichtinger, said, about his study schedule.

Young Lichtinger said he was nervous and stressed when he was on stage during the event.

“I did not know many of the words,” he admits.

But even after the event, young Schofield remarked that she didn’t realize she won at first.

“At first I didn’t realize I won,” she said. “Everyone started clapping.”

Evergreen Middle School eighth-grader Leah Schwan, 14, finished third.

She received a runner-up plaque.

Russell Bodi, professor of English and director of the honors program at Owens Community College, was the pronouncer.

Judges included Debby Geyer, the Blade’s Newspapers in Education Coordinator; Bailey Shoemaker Richards, Blade Spelling Bee Championship winner for 2003 and 2004; and Steve Dolley, a board member of Read for Literacy.

Paula Emery, The Blade’s Spelling Bee coordinator, was the auditor.

Contact Kelly McLendon at: or 419-724-6522 or on Twitter @KMcBlade.

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