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Young videographers enjoy week in D.C.

River Grove students didn't win the grand prize, but they had a 'once-in-a-lifetime' experience


MARK BOWEN/SCRIPPS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE - River Grove finalists (from left) Colby Ackerman, Wes Holland, Henry Sturges and Nick Wittig beam onstage as they await results in the Scripps National Spelling Bee's inaugural Spellebrity Video Contest in Washington, D.C.They didn’t land the grand prize last week in the Scripps National Spelling Bee’s inaugural Spellebrity Video Contest in Washington, D.C., but Colby Ackerman, Nick Wittig, Wes Holland and Henry Sturges did have the trip of a lifetime.

“The boys were just so happy to spend the week together, make new friends and experience all the fun and excitement that happens over Bee Week,” says Colby’s mom, Julie Watson. “They are already talking about ideas for the video they hope to enter in the contest next year.”

The River Grove Elementary fifth-graders may not have gotten the grand prize, but “in the end it didn’t really matter; for both the parents and the boys, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience,” Watson says.

Mary Noorlander, an eighth-grader at Oneonta Middle School in New York, took the contest’s top slot, but the River Grove students triumphed over dozens of other videos in the national contest when their entry, “Just Read It,” was selected as one of the Top 10 semifinalists on April 18. They then advanced to the finals and earned the trip to D.C. when online voters placed them in the Top Five.

“It has been really encouraging to see how much support the kids have from the Lake Oswego community, and also, I think, a great life lesson for them to really see that hard work and perseverance can really get you a long way,” Watson says. 

Every member of the semifinalist teams received a Kindle Paperwhite. There also was airfare to D.C. for each team member of the five finalists and a parent/guardian, lodging in the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, and a

$400 gift card for travel and meal expenses. In addition, teams were treated to a visit to the National Zoo and a tour of D.C.

Before leaving for the trip, Nick said he would be fine with not taking the top slot.

“It’s an honor that I’m representing our school,” he said.

— Jillian DaleyMARK BOWEN/SCRIPPS NATIONAL SPELLING BEE - Finalists from River Grove Elementary School are interviewed on stage by The Scripps Co.'s Chip Mahaney during the Scripps National Spelling Bee's inaugural Spellebrity Video Contest.