Shweta Krishnan of Shallowford Falls Elementary, Samir Handa of Timber Ridge Elementary and Owen Kennedy of Mabry Middle School were the top three winners and will advance to the District Spelling Bee in March.
Students lined up on a stage in Kennesaw Mountain High School’s auditorium, one from each of the middle and elementary schools in the Cobb County School District.
For weeks, these students have been practicing spelling words like yieldable, boutique and fandango. Each had to win their school-wide spelling bee before competing at the county level.
A panel of four judges, all local volunteers, read each student a word to spell in the silent auditorium.
Gazelle. Omnipotent. Spaghetti.
Contestants could ask for the definition of a word, alternate pronunciations and for words to be used in sentences.
Diesel. Cacao. Autopsy.
They tapped their toes, fiddled with their water bottles and twisted their fingers in their laps as their fellow contestants spelled.
Suave. Hygiene. Teriyaki.
“I’ve always been pretty good at it,” said Michael Wise, a seventh-grader at Awtery Middle School, of spelling.
He had practiced going through lists of words with his parents each night for the past week, although he couldn’t remember yesterday how to correctly spell tatami, a traditional Japanese floor mat.
Wise wasn’t upset with his loss. He said he was looking forward to going home and playing video games, and that he would try again next year.
“I thought it would be a great experience,” said Donnie Crenshaw, an eighth-grader at Floyd Middle School.
Her entire family helped her practice for the bee, she said, because spelling was an important thing to be good at.
“It’s important for writing papers and communicating with others,” Crenshaw said.
Although she misspelled mandrel, she hopes to compete again. If not, Crenshaw plans to pursue a career in science, math or technology.
“We are building a foundation that will enable them for the rest of their lives. Spelling is essential,” said Connie Jackson, president of the Cobb County Association of Educators.
The teacher advocacy group sponsored the event this year, and will also be at the district bee in March, she said.
“I don’t like it. I hate it,” said Anisa Handa, a seventh-grader at Dickerson Middle, of spelling.
However, she is pretty good at it, she said, and hates losing in competitions.
She placed ninth in the county bee when she was in fifth grade, she said, and it was a point of pride to continue to compete each year.
Handa misspelled Mantilla, a lace or silk scarf worn by women over the hair and shoulders, before she made it to the top of the pack Saturday, but vowed to be back at next year’s competition.
While only the top three winners received trophies Saturday, eight students advanced to the district competition.
Aanya Sawhney, from Dodgen Middle, Vishaal Ganesh, East Side Elementary, Kaila Miller, Griffin Middle, Tanisha Chanda, Teasley Elementary, Amelia Floryance, of Smitha Middle School will move on to the district competition.