PAOLA — Three years ago, two fifth-graders at Sunflower Elementary put on quite a show during the school’s spelling bee.

Maddi Markovich and Adeline Stuebner went back and forth correctly spelling words into round 21 before they were eventually both declared co-champions.

Maddi and Adeline found themselves in the spotlight once again Friday, Jan. 10, during the Paola Middle School spelling bee.

The two star spellers, now in the eighth grade, were the last two spellers remaining at the start of the 10th round of the bee that began with 45 participants.

They once again put on a show by correctly spelling words like “thermohaline,” “stirrups,” “divan,” “Columbia,” “levees,” and “carborane.”

And they weren’t even fazed by multiple distractions, including two malfunctioning microphones, a deafening thunderstorm taking place outside and a drip from the ceiling that prompted Principal Mark Bloustine to quickly grab a bucket.

This time, though, a champion was crowned. After Maddi got hung up on “commodore,” Adeline correctly spelled “guanine” and “giza” to win the bee.

Both girls will represent Paola Middle School at the countywide spelling bee, just like they did for Sunflower Elementary three years ago. The countywide bee will take place Friday, Feb. 21, at Osawatomie High School.

The winner of the countywide bee will be invited to the Sunflower State Spelling Bee on Saturday, March 21, at Newman University in Wichita.

Editor and Publisher Brian McCauley can be reached at (913) 294-2311 or

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