Shelby County hosts state spelling bee

Published 10:25 am Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Gadsden Middle student spells “Macedonian” for win

By LINDA LONG/For the Reporter

NORTH SHELBY – After 17 rounds and three shots at the potential championship word, seventh grader Josh Kelley from Gadsden Middle School in Etowah County spelled “Macedonian.” And just like that Alabama had its top speller.

Coming in first runner up at the annual Alabama Spelling Bee held March 8 at Oak Mountain High School, was Caden Grider of Dekalb County and second runner up, Cody Davis of Covington County. Shelby County’s representative was Olivia Beland from Our Lady of the Valley School.

Kelley’s sigh of relief on learning he had correctly spelled the winning word was audible throughout the school auditorium where the best 55 spellers in Alabama squared off for a chance to represent the state at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. this May.

Aged 9 to 14, they came from 54 counties, some dressed in the preppie look with chinos and spring plaid shirts and some in their Sunday best. Others sported bright red T-shirts emblazoned with the phrase “Bee Calm and Spell,” shirts provided by Adventure Travel which sponsors the event each year and pays for the winner’s trip to the nation’s capitol.

“These are some of the smartest kids in the state,” said Susan McDougal, Adventure Travel spokesperson and coordinator of the annual event. “I couldn’t spell some of these words, and I doubt most of the adults here today could. Plus, the national event has added a new vocabulary category and that makes it even more challenging.”

Kelly, who had won spelling bees in his classroom, school and a 72-round county marathon bee where he competed against his brother, admitted he was getting nervous after missing the first two rounds of championship words.

“I was afraid I wouldn’t get another shot at it. I am so stoked, ecstatic,” he said. “I never dreamed I would be here and I would win the state spelling bee.”

Kelley said the upcoming National Spelling Bee will be his first trip to Washington D.C. Between now and then, he says he plans to “hit root words and study word origins and word patterns.”