The three winners of the spelling bee hold silver cup trophies
From left: Ainsley Falloon, Kim Servan, and Leo Furlong. Not pictured: TaMerrra Edwards.

Leo Furlong Wins Ball State PBS Regional Spelling Bee

MUNCIE, IND. — Leo Furlong is the champion of the regional spelling bee sponsored by Ball State PBS. His winning word was “jalapeño.” The competition involving 47 spellers from 47 local schools lasted 12 rounds.

The first runner-up is Kim Servan from Royerton Elementary. Second runner-up is a tie between Ainsley Falloon from Northside Middle School in Muncie, and TaMerra Edwards from Lee L. Driver Middle School in Winchester.

Spellers competed at Sursa Performance Hall on March 9 in an event that will be broadcast on Ball State PBS at 9:00 a.m. Saturday, April 6, and at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 11. It will also be streamed on, the Ball State Public Media mobile app, and the PBS App.

Felicia Gray, an educator at Burris Laboratory school served as pronouncer for the competition, and the judges – tasked with tracking every word and verifying spelling accuracy – were Stephanie Weichmann, IPR Managing Editor and host, and Alesya Rathinasamy, former Ball State PBS Regional Spelling Bee Champion.

Spellers studied “Words of the Champions,” the 4,000-word list provided by the Scripps National Spelling Bee, to prepare for the competition.

Furlong now advances to compete in the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee this summer near Washington, D.C. The semifinals on May 29 and the finals on May 30 will be televised on ION.

In addition to qualifying for the national competition, Furlong also wins these prizes:

  • The Samuel Louis Sugarman Award is a 2024 United States Mint Proof Set provided by Jay Sugarman, chairman and CEO of iStar Financial, in honor of his father. Furlong will receive the prize in the summer.
  • Britannica Online Premium is a one-year subscription for the premier online resource from Encyclopædia Britannica.
  • Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online is a one-year subscription for the official word source for all levels of competition for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
  • Epic Family is a one-year subscription for the world’s largest digital library for kids with access to 40,000+ kids’ books, videos and audiobooks.
  • Tynker is a one-year home subscription for a leading K-12 creative coding platform plus eight live, 1-on-1 online coding classes.
  • All-expenses-paid trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee
  • Ray Ban sunglasses with case from Family Vision Care
  • $50 Visa gift card, hat and T-shirt from Sam Pierce Chevrolet
  • $25 gift card from Dave’s Video

“This was a great spelling bee with fantastic spellers from all over the region. It was fun watching them think through their words and do so great!” said Ashley Mann, community education Manager at Ball State Public Media.

Ball State PBS has sponsored the regional bee event for 8 years. The competition encourages the exploration of words and lifelong curiosity, with a focus on helping students set goals and dedicate time to study and prepare. Participation in the bee program also provides an opportunity for students to gain experience in public speaking and poise under pressure.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee provides the list of words for the regional competition. The Bee reaches millions of students across the country and in other parts of the world with the classroom materials it provides to enrolled schools.

The Ball State PBS Regional Spelling Bee was presented by Family Vision Care. School Fees Sponsor was Ball State University Teachers College. Additional support was provided by Avila Orthodontics; Leland C. Wilhoite, DDS, Navient Community Fund; Indiana Academy for Science, Mathematics, and Humanities; Scott E. Trout, DDS; Muncie Optimist Club and Sam Pierce Chevrolet.

About the Scripps National Spelling Bee:

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the nation’s largest and longest-running educational program, having launched in 1925. Visit for more information about the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is administered on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Company.

For more information about the Ball State PBS Spelling Bee, contact

Ashley Mann
Spelling Bee Director and Producer/Director