LA CONNER — At the La Conner Retirement Inn on Monday morning, “paraffin,” “bouillon,” and “diphtheria” were the challenges of the day.

For the second consecutive year, local students faced off against their elders in a spelling bee.

“It’s great to bring the kids and the residents together,” said La Conner Retirement Inn Activities Director BJ Johnson. “It’s amazing to see how well they spell.”

Eighth- and 10th-graders — including three-time Skagit County Regional Spelling Bee champion Charity Jordan — participated this year against the La Conner Retirement Inn residents.

Though Charity didn’t get the chance to spell any of the more difficult words, she still considered the day practice for her upcoming trip to National Harbor, Maryland, to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

“The pressure was on, though,” Charity said of her competition.

Though the students had help from Charity, the seniors won the day by four points.

“I think it makes the seniors feel good when they win, which they always seem to do,” school counselor Lori Buher said. “The more we can interact with the community the better.”

It didn’t take long Monday for it to become clear that the students had a challenge on their hands.

“Don’t underestimate them,” eighth-grader Alex Bouwens said.

For Trudy Newton, the bee is another way to keep her 101-year-old mind sharp.

“Take things as they come,” she said of her secret to long life.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141,, Twitter: @Kera_SVH,

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