If they were nervous, the middle school spellers didn’t show it as the 39th annual Charles County Spelling Bee got underway earlier this month.
Hosted at Theodore G. Davis Middle School, the Bee had nearly 60 students from public and private schools who have spelled their way through their schools’ Bees to make it to the county event.
Daphne Spencer, a Davis eighth grader who led the Pledge of Allegiance and was a member of her school’s spelling team, studied by writing words out on a legal pad. “That legal pad is kind of full,” she said. She and her father share a love of language and he pushed her to learn more about words, which led to her being in the Bee. “I like learning about language and linguistics. It’s something I share with my dad; he likes it too. He told me to learn the origins of words.”
Bee champion Haley Payton, an eighth grader at Milton M. Somers Middle School, has a different approach to preparing for the Bee. “I study just by reading the words out loud,” she said.
She and teammate Emily Winkler, a seventh grade student at Somers, were in a nail biter of a finale when Payton missed “kovsh,” allowing Winkler to take the lead after correctly spelling “poltergeist.”
Winkler had a chance to clinch the title, but misspelled “yamen,” leading to a spell off between the two friends. Payton correctly spelled “altruism,” then won with “amphibious.” Payton will represent Charles County at the Scripps National Spelling Bee held May 28 to June 4 at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in Oxon Hill.
The Somers team of Payton, Winkler, sixth grader Jack Alcorn, seventh grader Katee Wilmot and eighth grader Sarah Treadway, were named the top team at the Bee. The group is coached by Valerie Amend, a language arts teacher.
The five finalists in the competition were Alcorn, Payton, Winkler, Samirah Ansari, a seventh grader from Mattawoman Middle School and Evangeline Gilmer, an eighth grader from Benjamin Stoddert Middle School.
Sponsors of the Bee included the Maryland Independent, the College of Southern Maryland, Educational Systems Federal Credit Union, Southern Maryland Newspapers, Southern Maryland Electric Co-op, Chaney Enterprises and Charles County Public Schools.
Charles County Public Schools provides 26,400 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 36 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.
The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Dr. Patricia Vaira, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Pamela K. Murphy, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.