Park Record Spelling Bee champion sticks to the headlines, winning with ‘quarantine’

2020 Park Record Park City Spelling Bee 2nd through 4th grade winner Alex Keenan poses with his trophy, along with second place finisher John Ginster, left, third place finisher Kira Berkman, right, and Park Record publisher Andy Bernhard.
(Tanzi Propst/Park Record)

At the conclusion of the 14th annual Park Record Spelling Bee on Tuesday, the last student standing on the stage at the Egyptian Theatre was Caroline Turner, a Timpanogos Middle School eighth-grader who had just correctly spelled a word that has dominated the headlines recently — “quarantine.” Turner placed first in the fourth- through eighth-grade bee.

“I remember when we studied, I spelled that one wrong, like, two times, so I’m glad I got it right this time,” Turner said. “Quarantine.”

The second-place finisher, Ecker Hill Middle School seventh-grader Emilia Lytle, who won the bee in 2019, went out like a Spartan with the word “laconic,” and her classmate, David Hendel, placed third, after tripping up on “antithesis.”

For Turner, it was a striking return to the spelling bee stage.

“I feel great,” she said in an interview following the spelling bee. “I didn’t do very well (previously), so I’m glad I had redemption.”

Turner’s win advanced her to the televised Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is currently still scheduled to be held at the end of May at the National Harbor in Maryland, near Washington. But before all of that, she said, she had tentative plans to celebrate with her family.

“I’m probably going to commit to something like, eating ice cream or something,” she said.

Park Record Publisher Andy Bernhard said that the bee, in its 14th year, is a unique part of the community’s fabric, and the question of whether or not the national bee will move forward doesn’t change that fact.

“It’s an honor for our community to be involved at that level,” he said. “We’re such a sports-minded community and this is more of an academic competition, and I think that’s an important aspect to consider when you’re growing up in a community like this.”

Before the main event, Park City Day School second-grader Alex Keenan took first in the second- through third-grade bee by correctly spelling “assistance.” Parley’s Park Elementary third-grader John Ginster finished runner-up off of “insubstantial,” and Kira Berkman, a second-grader at Parley’s Park, finished third with “generation.”

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is set to take place from May 24-29. Scripps announced on its website on Thursday, March 12, that planning for the annual event is going forward, but that the organization is monitoring the recommendations of health officials. Visit for more details.


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