Ehrmantraut earns second place at county spelling bee
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By Mira Brody  March 28, 2014 12:00 am

“E-n-n-u-i.” It’s the French word for boredom, but spelling bee competitor Belle Ehrmantraut is anything but bored after winning second place in Sonoma County’s regional spelling competition. An avid reader and speller, the Lawrence Jones Middle School sixth-grader has been using her skills to compete in spelling bees since she was in fourth grade.

“I’ve always kind of known how to spell, but I realized that I was an efficient speller,” the 12-year-old Ehrmantraut said. When she gets a hard word? “I’ll either try to sound it out, or I’d write it a bunch of different ways and pick the one I think is most right. That helps a lot.”

Each participating school holds their own annual spelling bee and then will send their best two students to regional competitions.  Students then compete to represent their county and hope to be one of the five who progress to compete on a state-wide level.

“I think it helps with her maturity, and reading,” says her mother, Tiffany Ehrmantraut. Some of her daughter’s favorite books are “Divergent” and “Walk Two Moons.” “She’s a very mature person for her age…we’ve always known that. She reads mature books for her age and that has helped with her maturity and ability to reason with things going on in her life.”

Aside from an extremely proud and supportive family, Belle Ehrmantraut has a few teachers she remembers who have helped her along the way. Her reading instructor in first grade at Dunham Elementary, Mrs. McCarthy, saw Belle’s talents right away and placed her at an advanced reading level. Two of her favorite teachers at Lawrence Jones are her English and history teacher, Mrs. Hawkins, and her math and science teacher, Mrs. Pengle.

“I’m mostly nervous that I’ll mess up and misspell a word in front of everybody,” Ehrmantraut says of her on-stage jitters. “Before I go on, I look through the dictionary…sometimes, I just kind of skim through. Or I’ll look at a sheet of practice words.”

Some the hardest words she’s had to spell while competing have been “habitually,” whose correct spelling won her second place, and “epiphany.”

“My mom said she had a stomach ache the whole time,” she says. Her family makes an effort to attend every one of her spelling bees and supports her from the audience. “She was so nervous for me.”

Ehrmantraut has a 4-year old sister, Hope, and a 14-year old brother, Konnor, who she claims is “pretty good at spelling too.” Aside from reading and getting ready to compete in the regional spelling bee competition on Monday, March 31, Belle loves to play clarinet and is in advanced band class at Lawrence Jones. She also takes riding lessons and practices jumps with her neighbor’s horse, Remy.

“I think science is really cool to learn about because it’s good to learn about our earth and all of the things that it is made up of,” she says of other subjects.

Obviously, a very well-rounded and independent individual, Belle Ehrmantraut seems capable of taking on any word thrown her way and with continued support from her family and teachers will most likely succeed in the county spelling bee this coming Monday.

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