By Sarah Colson
Parallel or Paralell? Loose or lose? Yeild or yield? Last Wednesday, students from 10 different local schools gathered to test their knowledge (or is it knowlege?) of spelling at the 2015-2016 annual Johnson City Spelling Bee, sponsored by The Rotary Club of Johnson City. After several rounds of intense concentration, this year’s winner was fourth-grader Leila Spradling from Lake Ridge Elementary School.
“I really didn’t think I would win,” said Spradling with a big grin, “but I practiced a lot. Now I’m going to go out to eat with my family to celebrate.”
The bee started with a practice round, during which spellers could practice walking up to the mic and facing the five judges as they warmed up with words like “crawl,” “happen,” “stairs,” and “chronic.” Then, pronouncer Scott Honeycutt from the English department at East Tennessee State University moved on to the first round.
Fourth grader Avery Brack said she was kind of nervous before the contest, but added, “I’ve done this before.”
Avery’s mom, Heather, was anxious to see how all of the students performed. “I’m exceptionally proud of her,” Brack said of her daughter, who goes to Mountain View. “She’s done a really good job of getting to this point and studying and I know all of these kids have worked really hard so it’s going to be exciting.”
In the third round, Avery had to spell the word, “yenta.” After hesitating for a long moment, she spelled the word correctly and returned to her seat. Avery did not make it to the final three, but Heather said she was “so proud” of her daughter’s ability.
“I saw sheer panic on her face for just a minute,” Heather said of Avery’s reaction to the word ‘yenta.’ “But she spelled it correctly. She just manages to pull spellings out of thin air.”
Bianca Cielo, fourth grade, won third place and Laura Dugan, eighth grade, won second place. In the last round, Spradling had to spell “bizarre” correctly after Dugan misspelled “assassin.” The winning word for Spradling was “dynamic.”
Master of Ceremonies, Dr. Debra Bentley said she was grateful to The Rotary Club of Johnson City for sponsoring the event. “The many things they do to support education is just wonderful,” Bentley said, “and this is just one of the many things they do to promote learning of our young children.”
Each student received a $20 gift card for Barnes & Noble for making it to this round and first-place winner Spradling won a trophy.