On March 16, Rocky Mountain College hosted the 54th annual Treasure State Spelling Bee in the Fortin Education
RMC first hosted the event in 2016 — taking over the duties from Montana State University Billings, who hosted the spelling bee previously.
This year marked the fourth year Rocky has hosted the State Bee. It also was the last occasion; next year the State Bee will be hosted at a different venue.
Linda Eliason, director of the Treasure State Bee and assistant to Academic Vice President Steve Germic, spoke about the participants in the Bee.
“The grades that can participate statewide range from fourth grade to eighth grade,” said Eliason.
“Each county may send at least one student to participate in the State Bee. Several counties may send more based on their population. Yellowstone County sends four students; other counties may send three or two [students].”
Eliason explained that in this year’s Bee a sixth-grader from Helena, Clara Harmon, won after 19 rounds.
“They start with classroom spelling bees,” Eliason continued.
“They [students] work their way through school spelling bees, county spelling bees, and then they come to the state bee. We had 61 students this year. We can have anywhere between 60 and 70.”
Eliason has played a crucial role in organizing the Bee and coordinating with other RMC officials. These include Tracy Davidson, the adminstrative assistant to RMC President Bob Wilmouth, and Deb Faw, the director of camps and conferences.
“She [Faw] does all of the background setup. Tracy and I pull together the other stuff,” said Eliason.
“I mainly work with the county representatives pulling all information in from the students and giving them the information about the bee,” she said.
“Between the three of us, we pull in a few [Rocky] students here and there [to assist with the Bee]. We all play our roles; we all have our responsibilities,” said Eliason.
One of the students who assisted with the event was Bailey Rheaume.
“I helped starting in the fall,” said Rheaume. “I assisted with collecting and compiling information for each of the counties.”
Rheaume enjoyed the experience of working on the bee. “I loved getting a chance to see all of the hard work that each of the participants put into getting to the Treasure State Spelling Bee,” she said.
“Personally, I’m not a great speller and I was amazed at how good each of the students were at spelling. It was great to see all of the families there supporting their children.”
Rheaume noted that a variety of students, faculty, and staff were involved in both preparing and putting on the event. RMC communications professor Shelby Jo Long-Hammond was emcee again for this year’s bee. Long-Hammond has been the State Bee’s emcee for the past four years.
Rheaume spoke about the importance of community events like the State Bee.
“I think it is extremely important for students to get involved with both community and campus events,” said Rheaume. “We are so lucky to get scholarships from Rocky and receive support from the community that it is important for us to give back.”
“It has been fun,” said Eliason, summarizing her experience with the State Bee these last couple years.
“We all test ourselves as we’re sitting there listening. Some of those words are tricky,” she said.