Sixth-grader from Briarwood wins spelling bee

Fifteen middle school students from Shelby County schools competed in the countywide spelling bee Jan. 22 at the Shelby County Board of Education.

Superintendent Randy Fuller welcomed the students, many of them decked out in jackets with their school colors and emblems, and congratulated them on making it this far.

After going over the rules and a practice round to shake off the nerves, the bee’s pronouncer Scott Mohon read the spelling words aloud during the bee. Students were allowed to ask for the word’s definition, origin, how it’s used in a sentence, and alternate pronunciations.

The bee started at 9 a.m. with the word “forlorn” and lasted little over an hour. Students successfully spelled words such as mahi mahi, grotto, haiku, feldspar, and draconian, but missed others such as gondola, geode, and harmonica.

Marieclare Shirey, a 6th-grade student from Briarwood Christian School, Matteo Macaluso, in the 8th grade at Oak Mountain Middle School, and Robert Mann, a 7th-grader from Westminster at Oak Mountain School made it to the final round.

Shirey took first place by correctly spelling the championship word “noctograph.” Macaluso and Mann competed for second place, lasting through several rounds of words including podsnappery, phenologist, and pugilist. Macaluso won second place with the word “meniscus,” and shook hands with both Shirey and Mann after winning.

As parents snapped photos on their Blackberries and digital cameras, all of the students received certificates for their participation in the bee and the top two finalists received trophies.