Fifth-grade teacher Aaron Schmidt feeds words to speller Austin Bricker. PHOTO BY DAN FOX

It can take a touch of bravery to stand up before peers and speak – even more so when the pressure to spell complicated words is on one’s shoulders.

According to Skagway School District teacher Aaron Schmidt, the 17 students who participated in the annual school spelling bee on Friday, Feb. 3, conquered that pressure, and “really did themselves proud.”

“Mostly what I admire is the courage that those students show in coming up to spell in front of a whole bunch of people, that’s certainly not easy,” said Schmidt, who worked the bee in his fourth year as moderator. “I think a lot of adults even feel less than confident of their spelling, so I think for young people to get up there and do that is pretty fantastic.”

Sportsmanship was another quality Schmidt said he saw during the event.

“I noticed throughout the event, there was a strong current of them encouraging each other,” Schmidt said. “When one would spell a word, they’d get a lot of high-fives from the row of chairs after, and to me, that just makes my heart swell.”

Sixth-grader Connor Getz carried the day.

Getz will travel to Anchorage in several weeks to compete in the state spelling bee.