She gets off to a good start by correctly spelling ‘menagerie’

    Ainsley Boucher, 12, a Crookston High School seventh-grader who advanced from the state spelling bee to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., correctly spelled her first word on stage Wednesday morning, according to the bee website.

    Ainsley took the stage Wednesday morning and correctly spelled “menagerie.” Her mom, Stefanie, told the Times that she’s expected to return to the stage sometime Wednesday afternoon to attempt to correctly spell another word in the next round.

    The national bee runs until June 4.

    Approximately 11 million spellers from fifth to eighth grade across the United States and its territories initially competed in local bees. Boucher won the bee at Highland School, advanced from the regional bee in Thief River Falls, and then advanced from the state bee in Fergus Falls when she correctly spelled “Svengali.”

    Stefanie said it’s an amazing experience for the spellers and their families and supporters, for numerous reasons.

    “It’s positively thrilling to be here,” she said, adding that Ainsley and the other spellers are referred to as “Spellebrities and are treated like little VIPs.”

    Stefanie said camera crews are everywhere and the stage is enormous, much larger than it appears on TV. (ESPN broadcasts some of the bee on its networks.)

    “Ainsley is having a fantastic time meeting and visiting with other spellers,” Stefanie said. “No matter what happens, it’s an honor simply to be here and take part.”

    Ainsley is speller #228 at the bee, for those who want to follow along at http://spellingbee.com/