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It was an evening that started with “foreign” and ended with “solitaire.”
Those were the words that kicked off, and eventually closed out, the first district-wide spelling bee by the Washington County School District to take place in at least eight years. The event was challenging for the young spellers as they were jockeying for position as the county’s best. Along with that title came the opportunity to compete in the 18th annual Kentucky Derby Festival Spelling Bee.
The local competition featured Hannah Harmon, a fifth grader at North Washington Elementary School; William Thompson, a fourth grader from Washington County Elementary; Washington County Middle School sixth grader Erin Taylor; and North Washington seventh grader Bailey Woford. The four students represented each of the elementary and middle schools in the district. North Washington, which is a K-8 school, was represented by two students, one from the elementary grades and another from the middle school grades. They won spelling bees within their schools to reach the district competition.
When the dust had settled, it was Taylor who took the title by spelling scarab correctly after the word was missed by Harmon. The two were the last remaining at the time, and according to the rules, Taylor had to correctly spell the word Harmon had missed, as well as correctly spelling an additional word. She did, and her final word was solitaire, which was fitting as she was the only remaining speller, and the county-wide champion.
Taylor, 11, is the daughter of Joey and Jennifer Taylor of Springfield. Although students were given a list of potential words to study before the event, Taylor said she didn’t spend a lot of time studying.
“I didn’t really practice much. I just like to read a lot, and that helps me with spelling,” she said.
Taylor will advance to compete in the Kentucky Derby Festival Spelling Bee to represent Washington County on March 19, and the day will be special for her for a couple of reasons. Not only will she be looking to become a state spelling bee champion, but she will also celebrate her 12th birthday.
As for preparation, it will be business, or in Taylor’s case, reading as usual.
“I’m excited to be going to state competition, and I think I’ll do OK. I might study a little bit, but I’ll probably just keep reading,” she said.
Not only does Taylor advance to the state competition, but she also won a $50 savings bond from Springfield State Bank.
Cherry Boyles, instructional supervisor for Washington County Schools, said Taylor’s advancement to the state competition shows the focus on academics for her and all local students.
“With Washington County Schools’ focus on ‘Commanding Excellence for All,’ our involvement in the Kentucky Derby Festival Spelling Bee clearly underscores that we define excellence through academics, as well as arts and athletics,” Boyles said. “As a district, we are looking for opportunities to highlight the skills and talents of all students. We are very proud of all of our finalists, and are looking forward to having our district represented in the state bee for the first time in many years.”