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Remembering Bill Schaefer

The Denver Public Schools semantics program lost its dedicated coordinator, Bill Schaefer, in August 2020. He leaves behind family, friends, colleagues, volunteers, and a longstanding community of young spellers to whom he gave his time and talents as a teacher and a coach.

A longtime DPS teacher, Bill started teaching spelling in the early 1970s. He also coached basketball, football, baseball, and golf. Following his retirement in the early 1990s, Bill continued to direct the DPS semantics program. Given Bill’s vast knowledge of the English language, people were surprised to learn he had actually taught math at Hill Middle School.

Among his pupils at Hill was former NBA star Chauncey Billups, who credits Bill with sending him to his first Nuggets game. Bill ran the scorer’s table for the Nuggets for many years and, according to Chauncey’s Facebook page, knew young Chauncey loved basketball. Bill dangled Nuggets tickets as an incentive for Chauncey to score at least a B on his math test, which he did—and the rest is history.

In addition to coordinating the DPS semantics program, Bill conducted summer semantics group activities and coached state-qualifying spellers one-on-one year-round, free of charge. His love of scorekeeping and statistics showed in his meticulous accounting of how many words DPS students spelled correctly. Thanks to Bill’s efforts, DPS spellers have in recent years formed the largest contingent of finalists at the Denver Post Colorado State Spelling Bee. He coached five spellers to six state championships. Five of his students competed in the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

“I do it for fun,” Bill told The Denver Post and National Public Radio in 2019. “My fee is one enthusiastic speller and $10 for a binder. I like the kids, and I like the subject. I enjoy doing it.”

In lieu of flowers, Bill’s family suggests donations to Junior Golf Alliance of Colorado or A Precious Child.


2020 "City Orals" District Championship Spelling Bee
Angelina Holm, an 8th grader at Denver School of the Arts, is the 2020 "City Orals" district spelling bee champion.  Second place went to Lachlan Flanigan, a 6th grader at Denver Boys School, who misspelled sciolistic, relating to superficial knowledge. Angelina correctly spelled interdigitated, having the fingers of both hands interlocked, to claim the title.  Placing in the top six were Ben Holland, an 8th grader at Hamilton Middle School, Lindsay Sieja, a 7th grader at McAuliffe International, Rithvik Iyer, a 7th grader at McAuliffe International, and Luca McMurray, a 6th grader at Morey Middle School.  Click on "City Orals - Results" for the rest of the spellers and "City Written - Qualifiers" for their pictures.
2020 City Written Spelling Contest
Angelina Holm, an 8th grader at Denver School of the Arts, is the 2020 City Written district champion.  She missed 3 of the 100 spelling and vocabulary words.  Ben Holland, an 8th grader at Hamilton, finished in second place.  Also finishing in the top five were Albertine Gingrass, 8th grader at DSA, Bryson Browning, 7th grader at DSST Byers, and Lachlan Flanigan, 6th grader at Boys School of Denver.  The most misspelled word on the test was torrenticole, "an organism living in swiftly flowing waters."  All of the state qualifiers spelled these words correctly: cinematic, anxiety, debris. russet, and longevityClick on "City Written - Results" for the rest of the state and City Orals qualifiers.

2020  Second Spelling Bee - Thursday, January 23
Click on "Second Spelling Bee - Results" for all of the championship round spellers.
Second Spelling Bee - List of Champions:
1)  Boys School, Edison, Grant Ranch, Merrill, Skinner, and Summit Academy at Kaiser: 
                                                                        Duncan Monroe  (Merrill, 7th grade)
2)  C3, Cory, DSST Byers, Morey, and Steele at Polaris:  Bryson Browning  (DSST Byers, 7th grade)
3)  Denver Green Northfield, Hamilton, RMSEL, Slavens and University Park at Greenwood: 
                                                                         Ben Holland
(Hamilton, 8th grade)
4)  Carson, DSA, Hill, Lake, and McAuliffe International at DLS:  Angelina Holm  (DSA, 8th grade)
Albertine Gingrass  (DSA, 8th grade), co-champions

5)  Roberts, Swigert, Westerly Creek, and Willow Elementary at Bird: Davis Jozsa  (Swigert, 3rd grade)
2019 - 2020  First Spelling Bee - Thursday, December 5      
Click on "First Spelling Bee - Results" for all of the championship round spellers.
First Spelling Bee - List of Champions:
1)  Bird, Greenwood, McAuliffe, and Willow at DLS:  Rithvik Iyer  (McAuliffe, 7th grade)
2)  Boys School, Denver Green Northfield, Lake, Morey, Polaris, and Skinner at Edison: 
                                                                           Lachlan Flanigan  (Boys School, 6th grade)
3)  C3, Cory, DSST Byers, Merrill, and RMSEL at Steele:  Bryson Browning  (DSST Byers, 7th grade)
4)  Hamilton, Kaiser, Slavens, Summit Academy, and University Park at Grant Ranch: 
                                                                               Sam Holland (Hamilton, 7th grade)
5)  Carson, Hill, Roberts, Swigert, and Westerly Creek at DSA:  Angelina Holm  (DSA, 8th grade)
2019 Colorado State Spelling Bee
Wow!  Of the 283 spellers at the 2019 Colorado State Spelling Bee, 15 DPS spellers were among the 29 spellers that made the finals.  Lachlan Flanigan misspelled "Sarajevo" to finish in 3rd place.  Ben Holland misspelled "copepod" to finish runner-up for the second straight year.  Angelina Holm then correctly spelled "heliacal" to re-claim the state championship she won last year.  Below are the spelling bee finalists from the Denver Public Schools.  Congratulations!
Champion:  Angelina Holm, 7th grade, Denver School of the Arts. Scripps National Spelling Bee.
2nd place:  Benjamin Holland, 7th grade, Hamilton Middle School 3rd place:  Lachlan Flanigan, 5th grade, Cory Elementary School
4th place:  Finn Hilty, 8th grade, Denver School of the Arts

4th place:  Lindsay Sieja, McAuliffe International School, 6th grade 8th place:  Maria Ciobanu, Denver School of the Arts, 8th grade. Scripps National Spelling Bee.
10th place:  Albertine Gingrass, Denver School of the Arts, 7th grade 12th place:  Zach Long, 8th grade, Slavens School K-8.  Scripps National Spelling Bee.

12th place:  Tate Hutchins, Slavens School, K-8, 8th grade
16th place:  Katie Acosta, Merrill Middle School, 8th grade
16th place:  Duncan Monroe, 7th grade, Merrill Middle School
16th place:  Chloe Osuna, Denver Language School, 8th grade

21st place:  Bryson Browning, DSST Byers, 6th grade.  Scripps National Spelling Bee.
21st place:  Sam Holland, Hamilton Middle School, 6th grade
26th place:  Wyn Parney, 8th grade, Denver School of the Arts   

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