The News Courier in Athens, Alabama

January 20, 2014

Athens, ABS top spellers advance to contend for county crown

By Kim West

— Six budding wordsmiths from Athens City Schools and Athens Bible School will compete against other school winners from throughout the county during this month’s Limestone County Spelling Bee.

Local elementary and intermediate students will gather at Clements High School on Jan. 27 to vie for the bragging rights as the county’s top young speller.

Competitors are asked to arrive by 5 p.m. for photos, seat selection and announcements, with the competition scheduled to start at 5:30 p.m., said bee coordinator and Athens Bible teacher Jessica Atherton.

City school winners are Barkley Fudge, Andy Thigpen, Kaylee Coats, Jamya Boyd and Connor Higgins, while Macy Dobbs will represent Athens Bible.

ABS and the city school system held their school competitions in December.

Schools statewide had until Friday to narrow down a contender for the countywide bees, according to the Alabama Spelling Bee website.

Atherton said the number of schools participating each year in the state’s county-level bees is based on how many register with Scripps, which sponsors the national tournament. She said a list of Limestone’s other school winners would be finalized by Monday.

Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham will host the state bee on March 8. The state champion will win an all-expenses-paid trip to the national bee May 25-31 in Washington D.C.

According to, Julie Junkin of Pickens County is the only Alabama champ to claim the national title. She won in 1974, with “hydrophyte” as her winning word.

Since 1970, four spellers from Madison County, three from Lauderdale County and one from Morgan County have won the Alabama championship, according to state bee sponsor Adventure Travel.

Listed below are results from the city school bees and Athens Bible School. (The News Courier will publish more school winners next week.)

• Athens Bible School — Macy Dobbs, first place

• Athens Elementary School — Barkley Fudge, first place; Elzie Elmore, runner-up

• Cowart Elementary School — Andy Thigpen, first; Brody Sheppard, runner-up

• Brookhill Elementary School — Kaylee Coats, first; Alyssa Carlota, second; David Lunsford, third

• Julian Newman Elementary School — Jamya Boyd, first; LyKenzie Newsom, runner-up

• Athens Intermediate School — Connor Higgins, first; Nancy Grace Brown, second; Justice Merritt, third