GREENFIELD — Dressed in a bright red T-shirt with his name in white letters stenciled over his chest, Carter Hacker sat in the chair and looked intently at the list of words in his hand.

He felt certain he could spell any of the 750 words he might be asked to write down, including Czechoslovakia, the word deemed the toughest by his teammates and other students.

Leading up to Friday’s 24th annual Indiana Academic Spell Bowl competition, Carter was full of confidence.

“That’s just how I roll,” said Carter, a fifth-grader at New Palestine Elementary. “Really, none of them are all that hard.”

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Carter and approximately 5,000 fourth-, fifth- and sixth-graders from around the state took part in the competition. Students from New Palestine Elementary were among the 14 teams who competed at Greenfield Intermediate School, one of the 43 host sites around the state.

Teams from schools in Hancock and Shelby counties included students from New Palestine Elementary, Brandywine Elementary, Sugar Creek Elementary, Eastern Hancock Elementary, Greenfield Intermediate School, Maxwell Intermediate School and St. Joseph Catholic School.

Students were given a list of 750 words to study. Many of the young spellers studied the words for months leading up to the competition, they said.

And not all of them shared Carter’s nonchalance.

“I’m a little scared,” said Breanna Byers, a fifth-grader at Brandywine Elementary School. “I’ve never done this before, and I’m going first.”

The Spell Bowl is a team concept with no individual winners. Each round consists of one team member writing the spelling of seven words; each correct word goes toward the group tally.

The teams with highest scores in each of the four enrollment classifications at each site are recognized with awards after the competition. In addition, the top 10 teams in each class statewide receive either a plaque or certificate to place in their school.

It’s a great learning opportunity for all students and teachers — regardless of the outcome, educators said.

“I love working with the kids on this because it gives me a chance to get to know them a little better,” said Sandra Nichols, a sixth-grade teacher at Brandywine Elementary.

Keeping the students calm and focused while encouraging them to have fun and do their best is the biggest challenge, Sugar Creek Elementary teacher Randall Stant said.

“I just reminded them they’ve got this — some of our kids have had the list and been studying since summer,” he said.

The competition is administered by the Indiana Association of School Principals, Department of Student Programs, and sponsored by Purdue University.

For complete results from local schools visit, Hover over the Student Programs tab, then Academic Competitions, then click on Academic Spell Bowl.

How'd your school score?

For complete results from local schools, visit Hover over the Student Programs tab, then Academic Competitions, then click on Academic Spell Bowl.

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Kristy Deer is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. She can be reached at 317-477-3262 or