Meet the Orchard Hollow Student Heading to the National Spelling Bee

Tia Geisler is off to Washington, D.C to c-o-m-p-e-t-e


Fourth-grader Tia Geisler (center) was named champion of the Tri-County Spelling on March 1st.

On May 30th, 2023, 231 students across the nation will compete in the 94th Scripps National Spelling Bee, taking part in a competition that has hosted over 11 million kids since 1925. Amongst those 231 students will be Mentor’s own Tia Geisler, a fourth-grade student from Orchard Hollow Elementary School, who has defiantly tackled words like “Vesuvian,” “Betrothal,” and “Rollicking” to win herself a spot amongst the best in the nation.

Tia’s spelling bee journey began just last year when she won the third-grade spelling bee in January of 2022 at Orchard Hollow. After this, she was determined to defend her title as champion during her fourth-grade year in front of her friends, peers, and audience. Since then, she hasn’t just won Orchard Hollow’s fourth-grade bee, but has been named champion of four further bees and is now heading to Washington, D.C. After her grade-level bee at Orchard Hollow, Tia advanced through the district’s fourth-grade bee, the Mentor School District Bee, the Lake County Bee, and later hailed champion of the Tri-County Bee, where she competed with students from all over Ashtabula, Lake, and Geauga counties.

In Mentor, students are initially selected to compete in their grade-level bee through a written spelling test, from where they have the opportunity to advance through multiple levels of competition that could potentially qualify them for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. Each Bee tests the competitors’ oral spelling capabilities by verbally presenting each consecutive student with a word from a pre-selected list. If spelled correctly, the competitor moves on to the next round of spelling. When the final two competitors are left, one must consecutively spell two words correctly in order to be named the winner.

Tia Geiser, 4th-grade student, competing at a school spelling bee in front of an audience.
Tia spelling at one of her bees.

Each year, the Scripps National Spelling Bee selects 4,000 words from the Merriam-Webster Unabridged dictionary to compile in the “Words of Champions,” which many students, like Tia, have used to study for competition. Since her championship in the Tri-County Bee, Tia has been tirelessly preparing for the National Bee. She spends 1-2 hours every night studying, utilizing resources like the “Words of Champions” and a software program called “SpellPundit,” which she stumbled upon while perusing an article about Zaila Avant-garde, the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion. The program has been used by many national competitors, including many finalists and champions.

This year’s National Bee takes place between May 30th and June 1st, covering four different segments – Preliminaries, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, and Finals. Spelling won’t be the only thing contestants are assessed on, however; as initiated in 2021, each segment will also be punctuated with what is called a “word meanings round,” where competitors are to orally select the correct multiple-choice answer to a vocabulary-related question. If seen fit by the officials, the winner could even be determined by a “spell-off” round that was first put into use in 2022, where spellers are given 90 seconds to spell as many words correctly as possible. Preliminaries and Quarterfinals will be available to watch on ION Plus, while Semifinals and Finals will also be broadcast on ION. The 231 spellers competing in this year’s National Bee hail from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Department of Defense Schools in Europe, and even the Bahamas, Canada, and Ghana.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee.

“Tia says that her teachers at Orchard Hollow have been extremely supportive of her on her journey,” says Tia’s father, Regis Geisler. “In particular, her school principal Jeniffer Harris, her 3rd grade teacher Chelsea Sadlik, her current teacher in 4th grade Desiree Dickinson, and her gifted services teacher Abbey Strodtbeck have been a few of the greatest influences on Tia in her classroom and spelling bee successes. She also said that her mother Melly (my wife) and I helped a bit, too.”

Outside of school, Tia is also an avid athlete. She plays soccer, basketball, and is currently in her third season of fast-pitch softball. As a passionate reader, she is currently traversing the fantastical worlds of the “Harry Potter” and “Secret Zoo” series. Occasionally, she also likes to play “Animal Crossing” on the Nintendo Switch to relax. Right now, Tia is exploring the possibility of becoming a paleontologist when she grows up. The interest sparked when her fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Dickinson, showed her class some fossils, and she now wants to learn more about the history natural life on Earth.

Now, Tia leaves to compete for her sixth time this year in the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Best wishes to Tia as she leaves to represent Mentor in Washington, D.C.!

The Scripps National Spelling Bee Begins In...
The National Bee Has Begun!