Dowagiac students excel in county spelling bee

Published 10:13 am Monday, February 22, 2016

Whatever knowledge Dowagiac eighth-grader Jossalyn Rogalski has of ethnic cuisine came in handy Friday afternoon, as she and fellow Dowagiac Middle School student Ricky Haskell faced off to determine who was Cass County’s number one speller.

With the group finalists already exhausting the initial pool of words given to students to study in preparation for this year’s spelling bee, pronouncer Mike Frazier resorted to reading words from a prior year’s list, in the process whittling down the field to just Rogalski and Haskell.

After the latter misspelled the word “fajita,” Rogalski followed up with the correct spelling, only needing to spell the next word on Frazier’s list to claim the top spot. Moving from Mexican to Japanese cuisine, Rogalski was asked to spell the word “Tempura,” a popular dish consisting of battered, deep fried seafood or vegetables.

“I was a little confused at first, because I thought he had said ‘Tempora,’ which I had never heard of before,” Rogalski said.

Getting past the vowel confusion, Rogalski nailed the spelling, earning her first place in the Cass County Spelling Bee’s fifth through eighth grade solo competition — her first in her five years of competition in the annual event.

“I’ve been in the spelling bee since fourth grade,” Rogalski said. “I finally got first place in my last year here.”

As she ages out of the competition next year, the eighth-grade student managed to go out on top.

Once again hosted by Lewis Cass ISD at Southwestern Michigan College, the 33rd annual county bee saw hundreds of super spellers from districts across Cass County, including Dowagiac, Cassopolis, Edwardsburg and Marcellus.

Rogalski and Haskell weren’t the only Chieftains who put on impressive performances Friday. Winning the fourth-grade solo competition was Sister Lakes’ Laura Schaller, the sister of last year’s co-winner Martha.

The Dowagiac team also took home first place in the fifth-grade team competition in dominating fashion, with the team not missing a single word.

Full results from the bee are as follows:


Fifth to eighth grade individual

First place: Jossalyn Rogalski, Dowagiac

Second place: Ricky Haskell, Dowagiac

Third place: Brady Layher, Edwardsburg

Fourth place: Elizabeth Merckx, Cassopolis

Fifth place: Mikayla Williams, Cassopolis; Abraham Guernsey, Dowagiac; Martha Schaller, Dowagiac; Hannah Smith, Edwardsburg; Elizabeth Ness, Edwardsburg; Olivia Stanger; Dowagiac.


Fourth grade individual

First place: Laura Schaller, Dowagiac

Second place: Emily Carlisle, Cassopolis

Fourth grade team competition

First place: Edwardsburg

Second place: Dowagiac, Cassopolis

Third place: Marcellus


Fifth grade team competition

First place: Dowagiac

Second place: Cassopolis, Edwardsburg

Third place: Marcellus


Sixth grade team competition

First place: Cassopolis

Second place: Edwardsburg

Third place: Marcellus

Fourth place: Dowagiac


Seventh grade team competition

First place: Edwardsburg

Second place: Dowagiac

Third place: Marcellus

Fourth place: Cassopolis


Eighth grade team competition

First place: Edwardsburg

Second place: Dowagiac

Third place: Cassopolis