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Excel Scholar Places 17th in Scripps National Spelling Bee

Blake Bouwman, eighth-grade student at Excel Charter Academy, competed in Scripps National Spelling Bee and finished in 17th place out of 567 spellers!

“My favorite part of the bee was meeting other contestants and doing activities with them, including having study groups and some mock spelling bees,” said Bouwman.

This was Bouwman’s first time attending the national bee, however he has been the Excel spelling bee and regional champion for the last five years. For this year’s competition, Bouwman prepared by spending countless hours dictionary diving and searching for online resources and lists.

“We were thrilled to see Blake do so well,” said Dan Bartels, principal at Excel Charter Academy. “It was exciting for our whole school to have Blake represent us at the national level, and for other students to be able to watch when it was his turn to spell on live television.”

At the final awards ceremony, Bouwman was the recipient of the staff-nominated “Worker Bee Award.” Staff members spotted him at various times helping other spellers and encouraging his fellow competitors.

“We saw you encouraging your fellow spellers; you studied with them, and even helped them and our crew,” said Jon Petz, emcee at the awards ceremony. “It's clear that you know how to put in the hard work not just in the dictionary, not just on-stage, but where it really matters, which is lifting up those around you.”

Watch FOX17 tell the story here.

About Excel Charter Academy
Excel Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Grand Rapids, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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