Achievements create bee-autiful academic ‘Storie’

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Storie Recker, an eighth grade student at Seneca Schools, has earned her way to both the state spelling and geography bee competitions, for the third consecutive year. (Photo by Correne Martin)

By Correne Martin

Seneca eighth grader Storie Recker is creating quite a story for herself in academics. 

For the third consecutive year, Storie has won not only the local spelling bee, but also the sectional spelling bee—meaning she’ll compete at the Wisconsin State Scripps National Spelling Bee, this year, for the third time. 

As if that isn’t enough of an accomplishment, she’s achieved an incredible three-peat in National Geographic Bee contests as well, having won the local and sectional geography bees for three years in a row. Yet again, she’s earned her spot in the state geography bee this year. 

The state spelling bee will take place March 24, at the Mitby Theater on the Madison Area Technical College campus. The state geography bee will happen April 6, at the American Family Training Center, also in Madison. 

“She works very hard at spelling. She studies every day,” her mom, Terry, shared. “Geography, she does for fun.”

Storie reads books about spelling bee strategies, studies flash cards and an official Merriam-Webster dictionary, and frequently tests herself with the Scripps spelling bee online preparation materials. When she finds a bit of geography trivia interesting, she looks it up to explore further. She loves the National Geography app on her iPad, she discusses current events and watches the news with her family, and often looks at the world maps hanging around her home’s walls.

In spelling, the quietly expressive Storie has educated herself about hundreds of vocabulary meanings. Plus, she’s passionate about languages of origin and how they play a part in the construction of words. The word list from Scripps for this year features terms from all aspects of the world around us, including sections of gemstones, types of government, medical terminology, etc.

Geography questions contestants may encounter also reference a myriad of global topics: not just maps, but dances, clothing, imports and exports, territories and countries, and cultures, too. 

To Storie’s knowledge, there aren’t any other youth from around Wisconsin competing in both the state spelling and geography bees. She knows it’s rare and is up to the challenge.

“I think I’ll do well,” she said, of her upcoming events.

Participants in the spelling bee must place in the top three to earn a trip to nationals. In sixth grade, Storie finished in seventh place at state, after misspelling “Galilean,” and in seventh grade, she got fifth at state. Her winning sectional word last year was “layette,” and, this year, it was “belligerent.”

Only the winner of the state geography bee will head to the national contest. Storie isn’t sure how she did the past two years, as that information wasn’t given to her. 

“The (state) spelling bee is very tense, everyone is very professional. But the (state) geography bee has a lot more fun activities for the kids,” her mom added. 

Storie explained there are usually maps on the floor, a yellow “National Geographic” picture frame, T-shirts and pins, which encourage bee participants to interact with their peers and allow their imaginations to run wild. 

Regardless of how she does at each, she’s achieved the unimaginable already. 

It’s “basically unheard of” to reach a three-peat, in academics, her dad, Jon, noted. In Storie’s situation, it’s especially monumental to have done what she has. According to Terry, her daughter did not speak until she was 2. 

“When she did talk, she was one of those kids who spoke in full sentences,” Terry smiled. Furthermore, her younger brother, Jonny, has severe autism, epilepsy and other health complications, “so [Storie] has to be self-motivated because, unfortunately, he does take a lot of our time.”

Storie understands how big her experiences are in terms of her yet-unwritten, personal education story.

“I feel like this might get me into a good college,” she said. “Spelling gives me good writing skills and I can use big words in papers and essays. Geography is helpful in history and current events.”

Of course, Storie has also made her family and friends proud. “A lot of people are happy for me. Most of my classmates think it’s cool,” she said.

Aside from these academics, Storie participates in forensics and Battle of the Books and plays the flute in band. She’s musically-talented and remarkable at recognizing and making bird sounds. 

“Her music teacher, last year, said she has perfect pitch,” commented teacher and adviser Alex Osterkamp.

All in all, Storie’s name seems ironically fitting for her masterly talents. No matter where this teenager finds herself across the globe someday, her journey is likely to be noteworthy. 

Storie is the granddaughter of Mary and the late Andy Recker and Terry and Donna McCullick, also of Seneca.

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