By Dave Ongie
After correctly spelling the word “porcelain,” Rachel Leerssen breathed the faintest sigh of relief as a smile spread across her face.
Leerssen, a seventh-grade student at Liberty Bell, was the last speller standing at the end of the Johnson City Spelling Bee last Wednesday. She outlasted runner-up Xander Oshoniyi of Towne Acres, overcoming a pair of misspelled words in the championship round to win the city-wide title.
Even though she missed a couple of chances to close Oshoniyi out, Leerssen didn’t give herself any pep talks before ultimately sealing the deal.
“I didn’t say anything to myself,” Leerssen said. “I was less nervous at the end.”
Alexa Estrada of Cherokee, Janelle Cooper of Fairmont, Arthur Zagolin of Lake Ridge, David Murray III of Mountain View, Jarreion Isom of North Side, Clara Hagemeier of South Side, Seilah Pickering of Woodland and Shreyas Singh of Indian Trail also competed in the event.
Participants in last Wednesday’s event earned the right to compete by winning spelling bees at their respective schools.
Dr. David Timbs, Josh Carter, Gary McAllister and Judge John Kiener served as judges for the event, which is sponsored by the Rotary Club of Johnson City.