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Eighth grade student from Custer wins USD Scripps Spelling Bee

VERMILLION, S.D. -- Max Oesterling, the son of Jeffrey and Dana Oesterling of Custer, S.D., correctly spelled “pronouncement” to win the oral competition of the University of South Dakota Scripps Spelling Bee on March 23.

Oesterling, an eighth grade student who participated in the bee as a representative of the South Dakota Christian Home School Association, advances to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., May 26-31. In addition to winning a trip to Washington, D.C. to participate in the National Spelling Bee, he also received a Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, 12th Edition, donated by Merriam-Webster.

Eighth grade student Lexis Sherron of Brandon Valley Middle School finished second in the oral bee, which lasted 39 rounds and was held at Farber Hall inside Old Main on the USD campus. Adele Benoit, a seventh grader at Sacred Heart Middle School, Yankton, S.D., was third. Additional participants included Carolyn Blaha, a seventh grade student from Wagner Community School; Whitney Fuerst, eighth grader at Tripp-Delmont; Emily Fox, seventh grade, Spearfish Classical Christian School; Luke Norby, third grader at Dakota Valley Elementary School, McCook Lake, S.D.; Maria Braga-Henebry, eighth grade, Garretson, S.D.; Genesis Reynolds, seventh grader, South Middle School, Rapid City, S.D.; Maddy Gillett, eighth grade, Sioux Falls Christian; and Connor Lightfield, eighth grader at Milbank Middle School. Download a photo of the top three spellers.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is administered on a not-for-profit basis by the E.W. Scripps Company and local spelling bee sponsors in the United States, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and Department of Defense Schools in Europe; also, the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea. The competition is open for students in first grade through the eighth grade.


Founded in 1862 and the first university in the Dakotas, the University of South Dakota is the only public liberal arts university in the state, with 202 undergraduate and 78 graduate programs in the College of Arts & Sciences, School of Education, School of Law, Sanford School of Medicine, School of Health Sciences, Beacom School of Business and College of Fine Arts. With an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students and more than 400 faculty, USD has a 16:1 student/faculty ratio, and it ranks among the best in academics and affordability. USD’s 18 athletic programs compete at the NCAA Division I level.

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Hanna DeLange
USD News