After advancing to National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. last year, eighth-grader takes first step toward a possible return trip this spring

    Ainsley Boucher, who, as a seventh-grader last year made it all the way to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., began her quest for a return trip as a Crookston High School eighth-grader when she won the Crookston School District Spelling Thursday at Highland School.

    Boucher’s correctly spelled “championship word” was “Kilimanjaro.” She outlasted seventh-grader Summer Goulet and, before that, seventh-grader Nathan Stenberg.

    Boucher will next compete in the Regional Spelling Bee, typically held in Thief River Falls. If she does well enough there, it’ll be onto the State Spelling Bee. The next step after that would be a return trip to the big stage in Washington, D.C.

    Local fifth through eighth-graders who made it to the Highland auditorium stage Thursday did so by scoring well enough on a written test. In addition to Boucher, Goulet and Stenberg, also competing on Thursday were Weston Benoit, Kaylie Clauson, Grace Smith, David Threatt, Karlie Arthur, Isaac Thomforde, Brandon Wandrie, Zara Baig, and Amber Olslund.

    Highland Principal Chris Trostad moderated the bee. Mike Christopherson returned as the word pronouncer, and judges were Sara Geist, Ray Dusek, and Dave Davidson.