Ryan Himmelsbach, an 8th grader at Paul J Gelinas Junior High School in East Setauket held onto his championship title at the 7th annual Hofstra Long Island Regional Spelling Bee on Sunday, February 11, at The Helene Fortunoff Theater at Hofstra University. Ryan, who also won in 2017, will represent Long Island at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, MD, May 27-June 1, 2018. Read the Newsday story
Ryan’s winning word was “teleost.” Other words he spelled correctly in the final rounds were “chevalet” and “apoptosis”. The Bee went 10 rounds and a little over two hours before Ryan was left as the sole speller on stage and announced as the winner.
First runner up in the competition was Zekey Huang from Mount Sinai Middle School. Second place runner up was Sara Ashraf from Hicksville Middle School. Some of the words leading up to the final rounds were “Fomorian,” “pyroclastic,” and “elutriation.”
The Hofstra Long Island Regional Spelling Bee started on February 4 with 129 students from schools throughout Nassau and Suffolk County. These students, winners of their local school bees, took the written exam portion of the competition. The 41 students who qualified for today’s spelldown (including Ryan’s younger sister Ava Himmelsbach) scored in the approximate top third of the test takers.
The spelldown is the competition where a panel of judges gave students words to spell aloud. Contestants were eliminated when they misspelled a word, and the competition continued until one speller remained.
Hofstra Associate Professor of Writing Studies and Rhetoric Lisa Dresner served as head judge. Jeffrey Morosoff, Associate Professor of Journalism, read the words and answered questions about their definitions and languages of origin. Assistant Professor of Writing Studies and Rhetoric Yvonne Teems and Hofstra Associate Professor of Writing Studies and Rhetoric and Associate Director of the Digital Research Center Ethna Lay, served record keeper and as the ringer, respectively.
Hofstra extends special thanks to The Scripps Company, Merriam-Webster Inc., and Encyclopedia Britannica for their support of the competition.