일요일, 5월 19, 2024
HomeDisabilitySpelling Champion With Down Syndrome Defies Stereotypes

Spelling Champion With Down Syndrome Defies Stereotypes


HONOLULU — That 13-year-old Ellen Ruckmann-Bruch has received Honolulu Waldorf College’s annual spelling bee two years in a row, is fluent in German together with Eng­lish and has run three digital marathons makes her uncommon.

That she’s executed all of this stuff and extra with Down syndrome makes her distinctive, at the least in Hawaii.

In December, Ellen was the highest speller at her faculty, outlasting 50 of her schoolmates over 29 rounds within the faculty spelling bee. She accurately spelled out loud such phrases as “mischievous” and “desecration” earlier than lastly successful with “tostones” (a Latin American dish of sliced and fried plantains). Now she’s making ready for the Jan. 27 district spelling bee, a preliminary to the state and nationwide Scripps Spelling Bee competitions.

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Ellen additionally received the varsity title in 2022, besting 64 of her classmates in about 9 rounds. That certified her for the Honolulu district spelling bee in 2023, the place she completed in eighth place.

Ellen, an enthusiastically conversational eighth grader who lives in Manoa, mentioned she loves spelling as a result of “I like phrases. They’re like my second companion, in addition to these pretty dad and mom of mine,” she mentioned, to embarrassed chuckles from her dads, Rudiger Ruckmann and Ben Bruch.

Spelling, Ellen mentioned, “helps my mind get management of the phrases. And if my mind controls the phrases, it builds me up and retains me branching out, like a tree branching out” to study extra in regards to the world, she added, spreading her arms extensive.

Individuals typically ask whether or not Ellen has been given simpler phrases or has been instructed forward of time which phrases she must spell in competitors. However the reply is not any: Ellen has been assigned phrases randomly chosen from the identical record used for all of the competing spellers, Bruch mentioned. She has obtained no particular lodging or exceptions to the foundations — “this was a straight-up stage enjoying discipline,” he mentioned.

Jennifer Yang, Hawaii State Spelling Bee coordinator and volunteer, mentioned she doesn’t know of any spelling-bee winners with Down syndrome in class, district or state preliminaries in Hawaii for the Scripps Nationwide Spelling Bee. “We solely know of Ellen! … Since my involvement from 2017, that is the primary of our information of any youngsters with Down syndrome collaborating,” Yang mentioned.

A spokesperson for the Scripps Nationwide Spelling Bee mentioned the group just isn’t conscious of any previous spellers with Down syndrome who’ve reached the nationwide competitors stage.

Corrie Loeffler, govt director of the Scripps nationwide competitors, mentioned in an emailed assertion, “Congratulations to Ellen, from all of us on the Scripps Nationwide Spelling Bee. Profitable a college bee represents an incredible achievement and dedication to studying. We want her good luck within the subsequent stage of competitors and may’t wait to comply with alongside on her spelling journey — now we have little doubt she’ll use the phrases she’s realized to shine her mild on the world!”

Down syndrome is a situation by which an individual is born with an additional chromosome. It may possibly trigger cognitive incapacity, developmental delays and bodily challenges, however the severity can range from one individual to the subsequent.

Ellen cherished phrases whilst a child and has “at all times had a gleam in her eye,” Ruckmann mentioned. Her dad and mom began studying to her in her infancy. By the sixth grade she was measured studying at a ninth grade stage, he mentioned, and he or she attends general-­training lessons at Waldorf. Since she has at all times scored properly on spelling assessments, Ellen’s dad and mom figured the spelling bee can be a very good match and signed her up.

All three say they’ve saved preparations for the contests mild and enjoyable. A binder with 52 pages containing 1000’s of phrases, from the nationwide spelling bee, lies on the eating desk, and Ellen browses at will throughout breakfast earlier than faculty. Throughout household walks and through automotive rides, Bruch recollects phrases which have tripped up Ellen previously, and quizzes her:

“Let’s strive ‘entrepreneur,’” Bruch says, to show.

“E-n-t-r-e-p-r-e-n-e-u-r,” Ellen enunciates easily.

She breezes additionally by “Einstein,” “flabbergast” and “fashionista,” in addition to her favourite phrase of the second, “grotesqueness.”

Throughout the newest spelling bee, Ruckmann, who occurs to be Honolulu Waldorf’s fundraising tasks’ adviser and particular assistant to the pinnacle of faculty, mentioned he was so nervous for Ellen that he stayed house and waited for updates by way of texts from Bruch. When he realized that Ellen had received once more, he stood exterior and sobbed.

For the household, Ellen’s victories characterize triumphs over discrimination. Ellen mentioned she has been instructed that “I don’t rely as an individual, when that’s not true,” she mentioned. “‘Oh, you may have Down syndrome — are you sensible?’ After all I’m sensible. ‘Are you robust, do you may have muscle groups, do you may have a mind?’ … They only attempt to carry you down.”

“When individuals get to know her, she’s like each different child,” Ruckmann mentioned of his daughter. Ellen, whose chief loves embody Taylor Swift music, dragonfruit juice, gymnastics and goats, realized German since each of her dad and mom converse it. She’s thrice earned her “Finisher” shirt for the digital model of the Honolulu Marathon by overlaying a couple of mile a day for a couple of month.

Ellen mentioned she enjoys advocating for herself and different college students. “If they’ve Down syndrome or they’ve every other issues, they’ll come to me for any recommendation, and I may help them,” she mentioned.

The three didn’t got down to change into advocates for individuals with Down syndrome, Ruckmann mentioned, however have developed into the roles over time. “We’re only a regular household making an attempt to stay our lives and be contributors. With our personal journeys changing into a pair and changing into dad and mom … the rationale we’ve sort of gone public is to supply households hope.”

© 2024 The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Distributed by Tribune Content material Company, LLC

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