John Glenn Spell Bowl Team Heads to State

What would you do if you were a school Superintendent and there was a high school coach who qualified for the state tournament 25 out of 25 years?

You’d probably recommend him or her for a raise. Well John Glenn’s High School Spell Bowl Team has qualified each year that Paul Hernandez has been coaching them. Of those years, they have been state champs in their class 15 times.

John Glenn is off to the state finals again this year on November 19th. Coach Hernandez was asked how many students are on the John Glenn team.

“You can have up to 20 students on a team and they can be in any of the four grade levels, any combination. Only 10 spell, the others are alternates. Each of the 10 spellers spells nine words. There are 10 rounds so the perfect score would be 90 points,” said Hernandez.

He says the students have been busy preparing for many words that may be given during the State finals.

“The State provides a different list of words every year and there are 3,700 words that they choose from for the competition. I think this is the most difficult list they’ve ever produced.”

Mr. Hernandez said there is a way he assembles the words for study purposes.

“We kind of go through the list alphabetically. I break it down, not one letter at a time, but you take groupings of them and I make up individual lists of difficult words; for instance, different endings, homonyms, homophones, and a capitalized word list.”

Also qualifying for the state competition were teams from Plymouth and New Prairie. The coach at Plymouth, Amy Smeltz, was a former John Glenn speller under Mr. Hernandez.