LA CONNER — When it came to spelling Monday morning, age won out at the La Conner Retirement Inn.

Seniors, including 100-year-old Trudy Newton, faced off against La Conner seventh-, eighth- and ninth-graders in a friendly spelling bee.

The seniors won by about five points.

“I’ve always loved words,” 93-year-old Edie Linder said. “I think (the students) did wonderful.”

The participants easily spelled words such as cliché, weird, bazaar and bizarre, but both sides were challenged by the words abscess and cataclysm.

Arguably the toughest word of the competition was “colloquy,” meaning discussion or conversation. But even that was no challenge for seventh-grader Charity Jordan, the two-time winner of the Skagit County Regional Spelling Bee.

“One of my words at the Bee was ‘colloquial,’” she said.

Her competitors’ life experiences likely helped their cause, Charity said.

“They’ve done so many things, had so many adventures that they’re like ‘Oh, I remember that word,’” she said.

Participating in such events helps Newton stay young, she said.

“Do everything possible that you can,” Newton said. “Read, write, walk. Activities help your brain.”

The students volunteered to participate in the bee, school counselor Lori Buher said.

“Any time we can have the opportunity to be involved with the folks here is special for the students,” Buher said. “It gives them an opportunity to communicate with folks in the community that are not their peers.”

The students were invited by staff at the inn.

“For years, the residents have been correcting my spelling,” Activities Director BJ Johnson said. “This generation took school very seriously.”

The event allowed seniors to showcase their skills, Johnson said, while showing students the importance of education.

“The interaction between generations is something we need,” said Bill Manatt, who volunteers at the inn and emceed the event.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141,

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