Fifth-grader Michael Stroud and his sister, fourth-grader Mei Li Stroud, are two of four Idyllwild School students who will represent the school at the Hemet Unified District Spelling Bee Tuesday, Jan. 12.
Michael and Mei Li will represent Idyllwild Elementary. Michael finished first after correctly spelling “sonar.”
Jessica Ruelas and Grace McKimson, both sixth graders, will represent Idyllwild Middle School. Jessica finished first after correctly spelling “hypnotic.”
Natalie Grove, grade four, was runner up. The Idyllwild School Spelling Bee was held on Tuesday, Dec. 15. Idyllwild School Principal Matt Kraemer served as spelling master, assisted by faculty members Marcie Curcie, Jessie Ornelas-Mares, Kirsten Ingrebretsen and Bob Leih.
The district champion will compete in the Riverside County Spelling Bee on Feb. 23. The district runner up will serve as an alternate at the county bee.
Only five students participated in the Idyllwild School bee, held on the same day Los Angeles closed all its schools after receiving a purported terrorist threat by email. Originally, 12 Idyllwild School students had been scheduled to take part in the bee, but school attendance was affected by parental concern over the Los Angeles school closures.
Kraemer said his school had received a number of calls from parents the morning of Dec. 15 questioning what protocols were in place to deal with bomb or terrorist threats. “Parents were concerned about security prompted by the Los Angeles school closures,” said Kraemer. He said that concern was reflected in reduced attendance that day.
L.A. Unified School District Superintendent Ramon Cortines made the decision to close all district schools after reviewing a crudely written email threat sent to the members of the LAUSD Board of Education. Cortines said he made the decision because he couldn’t take a chance with the district’s 640,000 students.
New York City law enforcement also received a similar threat but dismissed it as a hoax, which it in fact turned out to be. Both L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and Police Chief Charlie Beck agreed with Cortines’ decision noting that investigators could not determine, at the time the email was received, if the threat was legitimate or not.
Surveys after the San Bernardino shootings on Wednesday, Dec. 2, have shown a spike in nationwide concerns over possible new terrorist attacks.