Bee Seasoned

Half of competitors in upcoming Hopkins County Spelling Bee finished in top three in past 2 years

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Feb. 15, 2008 - At the end of this month, Como-Pickton eighth grader Kaitlyn Hankins will be defending her title as the Hopkins County Spelling Bee champ.

And she's going to have some seasoned competition.

This marks the third time Hankins has competed in the event, and is also the last year she is eligible to compete -- the annual spell-off is open only to the top fifth through eighth grade students in Hopkins County schools.

Hankins finished in the top half of competitors during the 2006 contest, and was determined to do better the next year. She came home with the title.

in 2007, beating out another seventh grader, Cydnee Devereux, first by spelling "spherical" correctly, then getting harpsichord right in the final double-elimination round.

Devereux is not among this year's list of competitors, which at six is perhaps the shortest in recent history -- but half of this year's finalists all finished in the top three the past two years.

Returning this year in hopes of bringing the title home to Sulphur Springs Middle School is seventh grader Ashley Clegg. As a sixth grader last year, Clegg "spelled out" in the seventh round of the bee, mistakenly beginning syntax with a "c." This will be her third year to compete in the spelling bee. She went the last round before double-elimination in 2006 when she forgot the second "m" in ammunition.

Clegg came in third for the 2006 title behind Kristen Gore -- also a seventh grader at SSMS and another fellow competitor at this year's contest.

It will be interesting to see how the three do this year. If Clegg and Hankins' performance last year and Clegg and Gore's in 2006 are anything to go by, this year could prove quite a fierce battle.

The 2006 contest really heated up in the fifth round when when half of the competitors were eliminated by misspelling "precinct," "pagan" and "naturalism."

The sixth round began with Gore correctly spelling "cranial," and Clegg stumbling on "ammunition," leaving only Gore and Devereux at the end of the sixth round. Then Devereux transposed some of the letters in "exterminate." Gore easily spelled "exterminate" correctly, but then spelled "cavity" with an "a" instead of an "i" putting the ball back in Devereux's court. Devereux correctly spelled "cavity" as well as "narrative," making her the winner of the 2006 spell off.

But the three veterans should have some stiff competition from the newcomers, as well.

Because Douglas Intermediate School fifth graders have really excelled over the last few years, one can't discount Lacey Jackson and Hunter Allen as serious competitors. The pair could do as Clegg and Gore did during their debut and really steal the show.

And Jace Sturgille, a sixth grader at Como-Pickton, shouldn't be counted out, either. Sturgille had to be good with words or he wouldn't have made cut and been selected to represent the C-P, as the school sends only their best to compete for the title.

The showdown between these six students begins at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in the board room at the Sulphur Spring Independent School District Administration Building, 631 Connally St. The winner of the Hopkins County Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Dallas Morning News, will advance to the regional contest in Dallas, with the second place finisher serving as an alternate in the event the winner can't attend. The winner of the regional contest them advances to the national contest in Washington, D.C.

By FAITH HUFFMAN

News-Telegram News Editor

At the end of this month, Como-Pickton eighth grader Kaitlyn Hankins will be defending her title as the Hopkins County Spelling Bee champ.

And she's going to have some seasoned competition.

This marks the third time Hankins has competed in the event, and is also the last year she is eligible to compete -- the annual spell-off is open only to the top fifth through eighth grade students in Hopkins County schools.

Hankins finished in the top half of competitors during the 2006 contest, and was determined to do better the next year. She came home with the title.

in 2007, beating out another seventh grader, Cydnee Devereux, first by spelling "spherical" correctly, then getting harpsichord right in the final double-elimination round.

Devereux is not among this year's list of competitors, which at six is perhaps the shortest in recent history -- but half of this year's finalists all finished in the top three the past two years.

Returning this year in hopes of bringing the title home to Sulphur Springs Middle School is seventh grader Ashley Clegg. As a sixth grader last year, Clegg "spelled out" in the seventh round of the bee, mistakenly beginning syntax with a "c." This will be her third year to compete in the spelling bee. She went the last round before double-elimination in 2006 when she forgot the second "m" in ammunition.

Clegg came in third for the 2006 title behind Kristen Gore -- also a seventh grader at SSMS and another fellow competitor at this year's contest.

It will be interesting to see how the three do this year. If Clegg and Hankins' performance last year and Clegg and Gore's in 2006 are anything to go by, this year could prove quite a fierce battle.

The 2006 contest really heated up in the fifth round when when half of the competitors were eliminated by misspelling "precinct," "pagan" and "naturalism."

The sixth round began with Gore correctly spelling "cranial," and Clegg stumbling on "ammunition," leaving only Gore and Devereux at the end of the sixth round. Then Devereux transposed some of the letters in "exterminate." Gore easily spelled "exterminate" correctly, but then spelled "cavity" with an "a" instead of an "i" putting the ball back in Devereux's court. Devereux correctly spelled "cavity" as well as "narrative," making her the winner of the 2006 spell off.

But the three veterans should have some stiff competition from the newcomers, as well.

Because Douglas Intermediate School fifth graders have really excelled over the last few years, one can't discount Lacey Jackson and Hunter Allen as serious competitors. The pair could do as Clegg and Gore did during their debut and really steal the show.

And Jace Sturgille, a sixth grader at Como-Pickton, shouldn't be counted out, either. Sturgille had to be good with words or he wouldn't have made cut and been selected to represent the C-P, as the school sends only their best to compete for the title.

The showdown between these six students begins at 1:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28, in the board room at the Sulphur Spring Independent School District Administration Building, 631 Connally St. The winner of the Hopkins County Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Dallas Morning News, will advance to the regional contest in Dallas, with the second place finisher serving as an alternate in the event the winner can't attend. The winner of the regional contest them advances to the national contest in Washington, D.C.

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