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“Harlequin” was the final word that Ian Robinson in seventh-grade at Stevensville Middle School spelled correctly to win the Ravalli County Spelling Bee, Tuesday.

Darby sixth-grade student Lillian Bennett spelled her way to runner-up.

Fourteen students won their school contests to compete in the Hamilton Middle School Auditorium that was the stepping stone to the state then national competitions of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Robinson and Bennett competed against Cameron Furlong — Darby, seventh grade; Jacquia McLeod — Victor, fifth grade; Brayden Gilbertson — Florence-Carlton, eighth grade; Emma Catanach — Victor, fifth grade; Tara Fournier — Corvallis, eighth grade; Jake Roman — Lone Rock, eighth grade; Lavon Hill — Stevensville, fifth grade; Em Courchesne — Hamilton, eighth grade; Bryan Strozyk — Lone Rock, seventh grade; Kylie Berk — Hamilton, eighth grade; Logan Williams — Florence-Carlton, fifth grade; and Ty Ellis — Corvallis fifth grade.

All contestants in the Ravalli County Spelling Bee received a participation certificate and pin. The first and second place finishers received a trophy.

The pronouncer was Lisa Montgomery, Ravalli County Superintendent of Schools was Regina Plettenberg and honorary judges were Robin Clute and Jana Exner.

All the words used in the county bee were from the official 400-word “2019 District Pronouncer Guide,” provided by the National Spelling Bee organizers. Every district spelling bee in the country use the same list of words. None of the contestants, nor their teachers, saw the exact list of words prior to the county competition.

Students could study a practice list of 450 words on, the official website of the National Spelling Bee and could access an additional 1,150 words on, the official spelling bee support site of Merriam-Webster Unabridged. Also, a downloadable PDF of “2019 Spell It!” was available for teachers to print for their school spelling champions through the log-in section of

Robinson and Bennett advance to the Montana Treasure State Spelling Bee in Billings on Saturday, March 16.

For the past several years, state organizers have endeavored to make the state bee available for viewing on a live feed. If interested, contact the county office by email at

The winner of the Montana Treasure State Spelling Bee will compete in the 2019 National Spelling Bee Competition during “Bee Week 2019,” May 26 - 30, in National Harbor, Maryland. The Primetime Finals will be at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, May 30.

This year, an estimated eleven million students, in grades four through eight, will take part in the spelling bee process.

Lisa Montgomery, deputy clerk (in the Ravalli County Clerk and Recorder / Superintendent / Elections office) and event organizer, said the county bee was a success.

“We are very proud of the talent and dedication represented on this stage and of all of our Ravalli County students who participated in the spelling bee, not only at the county level, but their school and classroom levels as well,” Montgomery said. “We wish to thank all the parents, teachers, family and friends who have helped these students prepare for this year’s spelling bee.”

Montgomery said the Ravalli County Spelling Bee had previously been run by Frank Laurence who passed away in November.

“I’m not quite sure how Frank first got involved with the bee in 2011, but once he came on board it became his mission to make sure it ran smoothly for the students,” she said. “Frank was even instrumental in getting a local sponsor to assist with the travel expenses of the county winners so that finances wouldn’t prevent them from attending at the state level.”

Montgomery said that for years Laurence, and his wife Sarah Windsor, took on many of the background responsibilities of running the county bee.

“Frank’s recent passing was unexpected to many and the county bee was not the same without him,” Montgomery said.