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Rathburn takes fifth in Grand Final bee

Parkside Middle School eighth-grader Shea Rathburn simulates writing the winning word "mahatma" on her hand Feb. 17 during the regional spelling bee at Ottawa High School. The Peru student placed fifth during the Grand Final Spelling Bee in East Peoria on March 17.
Parkside Middle School eighth-grader Shea Rathburn simulates writing the winning word "mahatma" on her hand Feb. 17 during the regional spelling bee at Ottawa High School. The Peru student placed fifth during the Grand Final Spelling Bee in East Peoria on March 17.

Shea Rathburn, of Parkside Middle School, took home fifth place when competing in the Grand Finals spelling bee.

The eighth-grader won the La Salle, Marshall and Putnam Regional Spelling Bee this year and said she was proud, yet still disappointed, to not take first in the Grand Final Spelling Bee at WEEK-TV Studios in East Peoria.

“It was fun and a nice experience to be a part of that, to be so close to nationals,” Shea said in a phone interview Friday afternoon.

“It’s my last year and I was really close,” she added.

She made it to the final five but misspelled "Keeshond," which is a breed of dog. Shea said there were some later words she could have spelled, but unfortunately tripped up earlier in the competition.

She continued prepping after the regional bee including on the trip to Peoria where she luckily practiced the word “Holi,” which is pronounced “holy,” but has an Arabic origin, as it was a trickier word she was given.

Her parents, Brad and Jaci, said they were impressed by their daughter’s performance at the bee.

“We’re very proud of her, as always,” Brad said. “She’s harder on herself than her mother and I are.”

Shea enjoyed taking a tour of the news studio but the family then had to rush back home in order to make Parkside Middle School’s production of “Xanadu.”

While Shea wasn’t able to take first in the Grand Finals, she won’t let that stop her from competing in other bees.

She said her next stop is the Knights of Columbus state spelling bee in April in Chatham.

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