Can you spell F-U-N?

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Camas Superintendent Mike Nerland presents prizes to the winners of the all-district spelling bee recently. From left are Elizabeth Gillespie, Ali Burris and Jacob Leetham. Second-grade students from Grass Valley, Lacamas Heights, Helen Baller and Prune Hill elementary schools participated.

Keeping students engaged and focused as the end of the school year looms on the horizon has long been a struggle for teachers.

That’s why the second-grade team in the Camas School District came up with the idea of a spelling bee.

Helen Baller Elementary School teachers Lisa Webb and Ellen Doyle led the effort.

“It was a great way to celebrate getting to the end of the year and it helps kids to keep up their spelling and literacy,” Doyle said.

The teachers developed a list of practice spelling words and used the website,, which includes virtual spelling bees, to practice with their classrooms.

Then came the classroom contests. Of those, the top four students from each second-grade classroom competed at the school-wide level.

From there, the top four students went on to compete at the district level.

The district competition was held Wednesday, June 1 at Helen Baller.

After nail-biting competition amongst the 22 competitors, Elizabeth Gillespie, a Helen Baller student, took first place for correctly spelling “burrito.”

Second- and third-place winners were Jacob Leetham and Ali Burris of Prune Hill Elementary.

Judges were retired Prune Hill librarian Al Moller, retired assistant superintendent Tanis Knight and reading specialist Melissa Butler. Superintendent Mike Nerland awarded prizes to the winners.

“It was a fun day,” Doyle said.