Sitting in a semicircle facing the audience, 16 school winners took turns stepping to the microphone in the Clements High School gymnasium, sounding out syllables and asking for definitions during Monday’s Limestone County Spelling Bee.
East Limestone High School seventh-grader Bernard Allotey, 12, won the county bee for the second time in four years, advancing to the Alabama Spelling Bee in March at Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham.
Allotey admitted he was nervous despite being a school winner for the third time since he first won the Limestone bee as a fourth-grader at Julian Newman Elementary School.
Allotey didn’t appear nervous through the eight-round competition, confidently asking for word origins and capping the 30-minute bee by spelling “affinity” to walk away with a $75 gift certificate and a plaque presented by Alpha Delta Kappa’s Rhonda Hacker.
“I’ve learned strategies to help spell words,” said Allotey, who also enjoys soccer, video games and reading. “I ask about origins, like when you’re spelling Greek words because those don’t use the letter ‘f’ but they do use ‘ph.’”
Bee runner-up and Athens Bible School sixth-grader Macy Dobbs, 11, said she spent a lot of time preparing for the bee, and at last count she had studied “610 words” in between winning her school bee in December and competing in Monday’s contest.
The students took on words that ranged from hamster, jaguar, cockatoo and kipper from the animal kingdom to less familiar fare such as gunnysack, miso, quiche and Bandersnatch, which is a fictional creature from the works of Lewis Carroll.
Allotey is bidding to become the county’s first state winner from Limestone County, according to the Alabama’s list of winners since 1970.
Listed below are Limestone’s 2013-14 school winners:
• Athens Bible School — Macy Dobbs, sixth grade
• Athens Elementary School — Barkley Fudge, fourth grade
• Athens Intermediate School — Connor Higgins, fifth grade
• Blue Springs Elementary School — McKenzie Atkins, fourth grade
• Brookhill Elementary School — Kaylee Coats, fourth grade
• Cedar Hill Elementary School — Susanna Cruitt, fifth grade
• Clements High School — Draven Gonzalez, sixth grade
• Cowart Elementary School — Andy Thigpen, third grade
• Creekside Elementary School — Cade Mitchell, fifth grade
• East Limestone High School — Bernard Allotey, seventh grade
• Elkmont High School — Allye Cagle, third grade
• Julian Newman Elementary School — Jamya Boyd, fourth grade
• Owens Elementary School — Cody Furline, fifth grade (Delane Hall competed during the county bee because Furline could not attend, according to spelling bee officials.)
• Piney Chapel Elementary School — Jake Beddingfield, fifth grade
• Tanner High School — Kiana Williams, fourth grade
• West Limestone High School — Sydni Wright, seventh grade