Sixth grader Anna Attaway Monday became the second person in her family to have her name added to the Hopkins County Spelling Bee trophy. The CHESS student’s sister, Ashley Clegg, won the annual spell-off in 2008 as a seventh grader at Sulphur Springs Middle School, her third year to compete.
In fact, Attaway said her sister’s involvement in the bee is what inspired her to try out.
“My sister had done it, so I tried it. I was surprised I actually won,” said Attaway, who admits she was nervous going into the contest for the first time.
"I was worried I’d be the first out. I didn’t think I was going to win; I’m really happy,” she added.
Attaway, daughter of Gary and Sherri Attaway of Sulphur Springs, won the spelling championship after spelling “impossible,” “persist,” “congratulations” and “stratification” correctly in the first four rounds then getting the anticipated challenge word, “cooperate,” correct, too.
As for her strategy, Attaway said she practiced spelling words with her family, reads a lot and “lots of praying.”
“I think God really helped me in this,” Attaway credited.
As the bee champion, Attaway qualifies to compete March 23 against the top county spellers in a 38-county region at the Dallas Morning News Regional Spelling Bee, the qualifier for the Scripps Howard national Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., May 26-June 1.
She correctly spelled “aviation” in the first round, then “authoritative” and “chastise” in the second and third rounds. She knew as soon as she uttered the first letter of her round four word, “enterprise.” that she’d misspoken.
Butler, too, is an avid reader. She’s also very active in school and other activities including soccer and martial arts, which she teaches to handicap children. And she’s done so while maintaining an A average — she’s only ever made one B.
If for any reason Attaway is unable to compete at the regional bee, as the first runner-up at the county bee Butler would step up in her place.
Also commended for their participation and achievements in being among the top spellers to advance from their school to the county contest were CHESS student Madi Gauntt of Cumby and Saltillo fifth grader Joe Tippit. Although they did not take home the title, each of the four competitors possessed a championship sportsmanship.
Tippit sat down after he called a “z” in place of “s” and left out the second “t” in “transatlantic” in the second round.
Gauntt sat down after transposing the “s” and “c” in “transience” — spelled after a pronunciation clarification was requested.
Judges were Lonette White of CHESS and Allie Thompson and Joli Maroney of Saltillo ISD. Pronouncer was Saltillo fourth grade teacher Jeanne Lawrence. Saltillo ISD sponsored the spelling bee at First Baptist Church’s Recreational Outreach Center Monday.
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