ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins County Spelling Bee came down to a couple of Church Hill students Thursday afternoon, but in the 13th round Church Hill Middle’s Abby Fisher proved that her spelling skills weren’t in need of “rehabilitation.”
The 15 champion spellers from each of the county’s elementary and middle schools competed in the annual event, which was held at Joseph Rogers Primary School.
As the winner, Fisher earned the right to represent her home county in the District Spelling Bee that will be held in March in Knoxville.
This year’s competition was one of the most hotly contested in recent memory, requiring nine rounds to get down to the final five.
Fifth place finisher Ana Rodriguez from Surgoinsville Middle was disappointed when the word “disappointed” knocked her out of the competition in the 10th round.
Bulls Gap School’s Kiera Johnson and Mooresburg Elementary’s Titus Martin tied for third after both were eliminated in the 12th round. Johnson was done in by “eligible” and Martin missed “measles.”
Church Hill Intermediate’s Alexandra Brown correctly spelled “advocate,” and Fisher correctly spelled “comprehend” to advance to the 13th round.
But the head-to-head competition ended there.
Brown missed “coyote,” which was then spelled correctly by Fisher, who sealed her victory by correctly spelling “rehabilitation.”
Fisher and Brown were each presented a trophy by Director of Schools Matt Hixson.
Hixson then presented medals to each of the school champions.
Among them were Josiah Gregg from Carters Valley Elementary; Shileigh Crawford from Church Hill Elementary; Saylour Perry from Clinch School; Gracie Bradley from Hawkins Elementary; Brady Light from Keplar Elementary; Kailynn Lee from McPheeters Bend Elementary; Marlee Clark from Mount Carmel Elementary; Kirsten Cinnamon from Rogersville Middle; Leland Blair from St. Clair Elementary; and Matthew Armstrong from Surgoinsville Elementary.
Some of the words that the top five finishers nailed in the late rounds included “performance,” “bracelet,” “bronze,” “orchard,” “pioneer,” “elephant,” “telescope,” “applause,” “grammar,” “companion,” and “celebrate.”
Among the words that knocked out contestants were “apology,” “alligator,” “jewel,” “hoax,” “elderly,” ‘ivory,” “joyful,” and “paste.”
One contestant misspelled “ribbon,” but it appeared that she misheard the word and thought it was “ribbit” (the sound a frog makes), which she spelled correctly.
Another contestant missed “frog” due to a technicality. He was obviously nervous and misspoke, starting “F-O” before correcting himself.
The rules state that once you start spelling a word, you can start over. But if you didn’t begin correctly, you can’t correct yourself.