JONESBORO, Ark. (AP) — Sixth-grader Morgan Sims won the Craighead County Spelling Bee with the word debacle, but the yearly contest quickly turned into one over a forgotten entry fee.
Morgan, a sixth-grader at Buffalo Island Central's West Elementary School, took home the first-place trophy and a $200 savings bond. However, second place winner Elizabeth Kaffka, a fifth-grader at Valley View Intermediate fifth-grader, will head to the state competition after Morgan's school forget to pay a $100 per-building entry fee to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, said Craighead County School District coordinator Sandra Taylor.
Taylor said the upfront fee is optional for participation in the county bee, but required to advance to the state competition.
News of the forgotten entry fee hit Morgan's northeastern Arkansas school district hard. Eighty students competed in this year's contest.
"She won the county. I'm proud of that," superintendent George Edd Holland told The Jonesboro Sun newspaper. "It's unfortunate she can't compete at the next level. I was caught off guard. I assumed we were fully eligible. I don't know how or why the decision was made to only register the junior high building, but all buildings will be registered from now on."
Morgan, who made it to the second round in the county bee last year, took the ordeal in stride.
"I'm really excited. I was here last year and was hoping to win. I'm so glad I did," she said.
Second-place winner Elizabeth seemed a bit more blase about her sudden turn of fortunes.
"I think I will spend the rest of the day playing my video games," she said after the contest. "Maybe Pokemon."
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