McConnell wins county spelling bee

By Carrie A. Mizell

Practice makes a perfect speller.
Just ask the Gilchrist County School District spelling bee champion Emily McConnell, who practiced by writing her spelling words 10 times each, every day for a week.
“It was a lot of work!” McConnell said.
The hard work paid off for Emily, who is a sixth grade student at First Place Academy, when she correctly spelled her championship word ‘gouge’ correctly.
Emily defeated Meredith Webber, an eighth grade student at Riverside Christian School, in the fourth round of the spelling bee when Meredith failed to spell the word ‘whimsical’ correctly. Emily correctly spelled the word ‘ecosystem’ before being given her championship word.


Spelling Bee winner Emily McConnell is shown with runner-up Meredith Webber.

Eleven students who won or were the first runner-up at their school’s spelling bees qualified to participate in the countywide spelling bee held at Trenton High School on Friday, Nov. 18. Those students were: Dakota Horlocker, an eighth grade student at Trenton Middle School; Adam Smith, a fifth grade student at Trenton Middle School; Garrett Caldwell, an eighth grade student at Bell Middle School; McKenzie Martin, a seventh grade student at Bell Middle School; Aubrey Cook, a fifth grade student at Bell Elementary School; Emily McConnell, a sixth grade student at First Place Academy; Jerilyn Marley, a fifth grade student at First Place Academy; Rylie Butler, a fifth grade student at Trenton Middle School; Wyatt Rutgerson, a fourth grade student at Bell Elementary School; Meredith Webber, an eighth grade student at Riverside Christian School and Taylor Drawdy, an eighth grade student at Riverside Christian School.
“We are very proud of the kids who are up on the stage today; you are all winners,” said Janet Bradley, director of secondary education for the Gilchrist County School District.
Prior to the start of the spelling bee, Trenton Middle-High School social studies teacher Larry Rawlings was introduced as the spelling bee pronouncer. Bradley also introduced the judges: Nancy Hastie, Jill Carhart and Jackie Downs.
In an effort to soothe the students’ nerves, each student was given the opportunity to walk to the microphone and introduce themselves to the audience, which was filled with family members, friends and fellow students.
Next, the students crossed the stage one-by-one and correctly spelled their first round words, which included: pursuit, hostile, juvenile, ecstatic, gourmet, jubilant, disappoint, elegant, puree, condiment and leisure.
The first two students up to the microphone, Taylor Drawdy and Adam Smith, incorrectly spelled their words ‘desperately’ and ‘accrued’ and were eliminated in round two. Then Meredith Webber spelled the word ‘ulterior’ correctly, followed by Rylie Butler who incorrectly spelled the word ‘syllable.’ Jerilyn Marley then correctly spelled the word ‘brochure.’ Aubrey Cook, Dakota Horlocker, Garrett Caldwell and McKenzie Martin all incorrectly spelled their words ‘serenade,’ ‘allocation,’ ‘technician,’ and ‘frivolous.’ Emily McConnell spelled the word ‘calzone’ correctly. Wyatt Rutgerson then incorrectly spelled the word ‘emphasize’ to finish round two.
Round three started with three remaining contestants, Meredith Webber, Jerilyn Marley and Emily McConnell. Meredith incorrectly spelled the word ‘allergenic’ followed by Jerilyn who incorrectly spelled the word ‘potassium’ and Emily who also incorrectly spelled her word, ‘matrimony.’
With only empty chairs left on the stage, Larry Rawlings called the final three contestants back up and gave each one a new word to spell. Meredith correctly spelled the word ‘loathe.’ Jerilyn incorrectly spelled the word ‘siege’ and Emily correctly spelled the word ‘feign.’
The final round ended after Meredith incorrectly spelled ‘whimsical’ and Emily correctly spelled her final two words.
Emily McConnell will now represent Gilchrist County at the regional spelling bee on February 11, 2012 in Tallahassee.

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