Will the third time be the charm for Tonka spellers?

Minnetonka Middle School East seventh-grade student Will Rooke hopes he has c-o-r-r-e-c-t spelling as he heads to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.  (Submitted photo)
Minnetonka Middle School East seventh-grade student Will Rooke hopes he has c-o-r-r-e-c-t spelling as he heads to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. (Submitted photo)

For third year in a row, student going to Scripps National Spelling Bee

By Rachel Anderson
Contributing writer

The legacy continues for Minnetonka Middle School East. For the third year in a row, one of the school’s students has won the Metro Area Regional Spelling Bee.

Will Rooke, 13, will soon head to Washington, D.C. to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The seventh grader is one of six young spellers from Minnesota who will compete in the event, which has been an annual event since 1925.

Rooke outlasted 48 other spellers from the metro area in late March to win the regional competition. He won in the 17th round by correctly spelling the word “capriole.”

“I had never heard that word before, but I was able to figure it out because it was Latin and I had learned how to spell other Latin words that sounded similar and ended with ‘iole,’” said Rooke.

For the record, a capriole is a movement in classical horseback riding in which the horse leaps from the ground and kicks out with its hind legs.

Rooke gives a lot of the credit for his win to Minnetonka Middle School East language arts teacher Kim Folkers, whose lessons helped him prepare for the competition.

“Earlier in the year we had a unit in her class where we studied Greek and Latin roots,” he said.

Rooke also credits his love for reading with helping him do so well in the competition. “Spelling has always come naturally to me,” he said.

“I always loved to spell as a kid too, but nothing at this level. We’re pretty impressed with Will’s motivation,” said his mom, Amy Rooke.

Now that he has won regionals, Rooke plans to spend the next several weeks preparing for the national competition, which begins May 27 and runs through June 2.

“I’m going to study different types of words, and the patterns followed by words from different languages of origin,” he said.

Rooke also plans to take advantage of the subscription to Hexco Academic products he won at regionals to help him get ready. Hexco boasts on its website that 17 National Spelling Bee winners in a row have used Hexco products to prepare for the competition.

Last May, Max Meyer, also a student at Minnetonka Middle School East, lost in the final round of the national competition. In 2015, Meyer finished the National Spelling Bee in 11th place.

The last time a Minnesota student won the National Spelling Bee was in 2001 when Sean Conley of Shakopee won the competition.