‘Bees’ brighten students’ springs


Despite its snowy start, spring is coming. Farmers will have sprouting fields, ranchers will have calves and students? Students will have bees. Lots and lots of bees. And some students in Central Montana have had great luck with bees this year.

Out in Judith Gap, eighth-grader Preston Abegglen is preparing for the Montana National Geographic State Bee. He’s placed in the school’s geo bee for the last three years, but this is his first year heading to state. Abegglen is even missing a day of school to go.

“That’s why I’m really excited,” he said. “I don’t really like school.”

Abegglen credits his history teacher with boosting his geographic knowledge.

Lewistown Junior High School eighth-grader Grant Swan is also headed for the state geo bee, but credits his expertise to an interest in maps.

“I guess I kind of like geography because maps are really interesting to me,” he said. “I like exploring new places, basically anywhere that’s interesting that I haven’t been.”

This is Swan’s third year winning the junior high’s geo bee, and he’s excited to be headed to the state competition. The winner of state competes at the national competition in Washington, D.C. Winning that would be a dream for Swan because that student wins a trip.

“If I win, I would like for my family to go somewhere I haven’t been before,” he said. “There’s just so much of this world to explore.”

In contrast, Reba Watson is focused on one particular place: Billings and the Treasure State Spelling Bee. The Hobson eighth grader won her fourth school and Judith Basin County spelling bees this year, and has high hopes for the next level of the competition.

“I’d really like to go to state and win state,” she said.

Watson puts her successes so far down to a mix of reading and studying.

“I actually like to read,” she said. “My parents read to me when I was little, then I learned to read and I’ve been reading ever since.”

This year has been no exception for Watson.

“I’ve read 100 books since the school year started,” she said.

In addition to learning spelling from books, Watson has memorized words from lists. She said she and her mom started preparing for this year’s spelling bee months ago. Why so early?

“Well, one list had 300 words, and another list had over 1,000,” she said.

Although she’s been working hard, Watson knows her spelling weak spot.

“I have this thing with pastries,” she said.

Watson explained the word “cruller” knocked her out one year, and “barquette” took her out of the competition the next year.

Good luck to everyone, and Watson, the Scandinavian pastry is spelled “krumkake.”



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