CHAMPLAIN — You might say that Connor Niederbuhl won the Regional Spelling Bee with flying colors.
After all, the word that he spelled for the win was “chromatic.”
One of the definitions which Webster’s gives for the word is “highly colored.”
The 13-year old Niederbuhl, a seventh-grader at Northeastern Clinton Central School, is fascinated by languages. That interest served him well during the Regional Spelling Bee on Friday, which was sponsored by Champlain Valley Educational Services and the Press-Republican.
As the winner of that event, Niederbuhl will head to Washington, D.C. to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Niederbuhl said that he loves language because of the opportunity to “interact and communicate with people from a lot of different places.” He is taking both French and Spanish this year, although only one language course is required; and he has taught himself some German as well.
His mother, Heather Savage of Champlain, said of Connor: “He constantly likes being challenged.” She is often amazed by his ability to absorb information. “He’s like a sponge. He can’t get enough. He always wants more and more.”
FIFTH GRADE WIN
Niederbuhl’s involvement in spelling bees began after he won for his class in fifth grade. At that time, she recalled, “We studied a little bit, but he wasn’t as adamant as he was this year.”
However, the fifth grade win sparked Niederbuhl’s interest. This year, he and his mother studied comprehensively. “We would just sit there, and I’d ask him how to spell it and circle the ones he got wrong. Then, I’d re-type the list and narrow it down for him. We kept working until he got them all.”
In keeping with Niederbuhl’s interest in languages, they used a strategy of focusing on a different language of origin each night, working through one or two languages every week. This allowed him to learn the rules and patterns distinct to each language.