Como-Pickton 7th grader wins county spelling bee

Kaitlyn Hankins beats out defending champion; Cydnee Devereux for trip to regional contest in Dallas

By FAITH HUFFMAN | News-Telegram News Editor

Mar. 2, 2007 - After a "tantalizing" finish in the upper half of last year's Hopkins County Spelling Bee, Kaitlyn Hankins decided that she would "implement" whatever strategy necessary to prepare for and win this year's contest.

Staff Photo by Faith Huffman

Hopkins County Spelling Bee champion Kaitlyn Hankins (front, right) and second place finisher Cydnee Devereux  and the other contestants pose for a picture Thursday afternoon with the 2007 Hopkins County Spelling Bee.

It paid off.

The Como-Pickton seventh grader's "discipline" of study ultimately captured top honors at the 2007 Hopkins County Spelling Bee, held Thursday at Sulphur Springs Independent School District Administration Building.

Hankins, the daughter of Beth and Tracey Hankins, advances to the regional spelling contest sponsored by the Dallas Morning News in Dallas on March 17. The winner in Dallas will advance to the 2007 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., on May 30-31.

Cydnee Devereux, last year's Hopkins County spelling champ, was quite "magnanimous" about her second place finish. 

After Devereux faltered on "spherical," Hankins spelled the word correctly, then went on to get "harpsichord" right in the final double-elimination round. Devereaux then rushed up to give Hankins a big hug and congratulate her. Hankins held her composure until after the contest, when the "jovial" atmosphere prompted tears of joy.

As first runner up, this year, Devereux, daughter of Tracee Smith, will be the alternate to the Dallas spelling bee in the event Hankins is unable to attend.

Ashley Clegg made it to the seventh round before mistakenly beginning "syntax" with a "c." This marks the second year the Sulphur Springs Middle School sixth grader has competed in the contest.

Douglas Intermediate fifth grader Karl Sehnert made it through the fifth round before mistakenly adding a “k” to "stucco."

The first and third rounds were the most treacherous, with four students each spelling out in each round, stumbling on words like "diorama" and "wanderlust."

Eliminated in the first round were Cumby Elementary sixth grader Harleigh Maddox, Brandon Jones, also a Cumby sixth grader, and North Hopkins sixth grader Cody Nix and eighth grader Tyler Daehn.

Both of Cumby's Junior High students, seventh grader Courtney Salinas and Courtney Crumpton had left the competition after the third round. Douglas fifth grader Shakoja Mosley also had to sit down in the third round, as did Como-Pickton seventh grader Arianna Leigh-Manuel.

Saltillo eighth grader Ryan Shores made the error of spelling "protagonist" too fast and leaving out a letter, which he recognized immediately, but the rules do not allow a speller to retract a letter once they've spelling. Brooke Lane, also an eighth grader at Saltillo, also spelled out in the second round.

Sherry Garrard and Holly Folmar acted as judges for the spelling contest, hosted. Connie Mabe, who facilitated the event, congratulated each competitor for doing their best.

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