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Kathleen Keesey spells with the best

By Celeste McNeil; photo courtesy of Tara Keesey

Photo of Kathleen Keesey

Kathleen Keesey tied for 16th place in the Scripps National Spelling Bee this summer. She begins eighth grade at Rocky Heights Middle School this year.

Kathleen Keesey is one of two Colorado teens who qualified to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Keesey won the Lee-Ogle-Whiteside Regional Spelling Bee in Illinois in mid-February before the Keesey family relocated to Castle Pines in March. Despite moving states, Keesey was still able to participate in the national semifinals, where she tied for 16th place.

Keesey qualified at the national level last year, but the spelling competition was ultimately cancelled. This year all national-level contests were held virtually with contestants at home, accompanied by a proctor, except the finals, which were in-person in Florida in early July. Preliminaries were held mid-June and included more than 200 regional champions. Six rounds of quarterfinals a few days later eliminated 179 spellers, leaving two and a half dozen semifinalists.

New to competition in 2021 were entire rounds of word meanings. It was round eight of the semifinals, a word meaning round, that tripped Keesey. Argentous was the offending word. It is an adjective from chemistry and means “containing silver.” Keesey successfully defined topiary and laparotomy and spelled kugel, ponzu, rotifer, assessorial, and puissant in the first seven rounds of the semifinals.

Keesey begins her eighth grade year at Rocky Heights Middle School this year. The family was drawn to Castle Pines because of its strong schools. Keesey, like most teenagers, enjoys hanging out with friends and has many interests outside of spelling. She is drawn to the performing arts with theater, dance, piano and voice lessons. She also likes to play tennis and participate in trivia competitions.

Keesey ultimately hopes to pursue a career in numbers. “I hope to attend MIT and study mathematics, business, marketing, finance and economics, and eventually get a job as a quantitative analyst or some other job involving math from a practical standpoint.”



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