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Michigan eighth grader juggles farm work and prep for Scripps National Spelling Bee

The Scripps National Spelling Bee will feature 234 spellers
Posted at 9:13 AM, May 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-31 13:42:31-04

(WXYZ) — It's Spelling Bee season, and several local spellers are gearing up for the main stage.

"I'm just glad that I was able to make it my last year of being able to," said Luke LaValley.

Luke is an eighth grader who lives in North Branch. He is among eight contestants representing Michigan in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. this year.

"I don't really know how to describe my emotions that well, just it felt good," he said after finding out he was going to compete at nationals.

Luke said his passion for spelling — just kind of happened.

"It just came naturally to me," he said.

Living on a farm, Luke said when he’s not doing farm work — he's practicing.

"I just go through my list and look them up on MerriamWebster.com and yeah, I write down like a very simplified definition of them and then I go on to the next word," said Luke.

His favorite word is one that describes an ancient weapon.

"It's atlatl ... it's just like an ancient thing that they used to throw spears with," he said.

And while much of the spelling bee is a waiting game — sometimes there is a strategy unfolding in the background, with spellers listening for the words of the rounds — and quizzing themselves.

"Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they get it wrong, and I'm just happy that I'm not that kid ... and when it's my word ...I just spell it to the best of my ability," he said.

This year’s competition will feature 234 spellers. Michigan has had one winner in the Bee’s history — and that was back in 1941.

The other spellers heading to nationals from the metro Detroit area are Angelina C. Gampala, Victor A. Andrews, and Lillian Rose Wallace.

 ION Plus and Bounce XL are your streaming homes for the Bee, including the Preliminaries, Quarterfinals, Semifinals and Finals! Coverage runs May 31-June 2. For more information on how to watch, click here.