LAUREL COUNTY, Ky. — North Laurel Middle School student Usman Salim demonstrated his ability to keep calm and think clearly as he took first-place honors at the 2014 Laurel County Spelling Bee Tuesday.
While all elementary schools, North Laurel Middle and South Laurel Middle each brought two students to the spelling contest, East Bernstadt and Cornerstone Christian School were allowed to bring four participants to the countywide competition, as they are K-8 schools.
After six rounds and besting 29 other Laurel County students, Salim was the last student standing. Melanie McWilliams of Keavy Elementary won second place, and Emily Bryant of London Elementary won third.
The contest started with a practice round, where regardless if the word was delivered incorrectly or not, students were able to stay seated. This opening round showed the students how difficult some of the words would be.
“We’re very proud of our students,” said the competition’s pronouncer Jon Oliver after the first round of competition eliminated 21 of the 30 competitors. “As you can see, these are some very difficult words and they’ve done a great job.”
Coincidentally in round two, the only correctly spelled words began with the letter “T.” “Trajectory," “turquoise” and “teriyaki” advanced the final three competitors to the third round of the competition.
In the third round, Salim, McWilliams and Bryant all spelled their words correctly, advancing to the fourth round where “periwinkle," “polonaise” — a slow dance of Polish origin in triple time, consisting chiefly of an intricate march or procession — and “miraculous” were all misspelled.
Between rounds, Oliver explained to the audience that, with the pressure of competition increasing every round, it is impressive the students were doing so well.
“It’s so impressive that the students are willing and able to get up here and spell really difficult words in front of so many people while competing against other students,” Oliver said. “There aren’t many people who are brave enough to get in front of people and do what these kids are doing.”
In the fifth round, nerves began to set in as the students, having just missed a word, realized the pressure was on.
Bryant was eliminated in the fifth round, earning third-place, after she misspelled the word “protocol.” Salim and McWilliams advanced to the sixth and final round by correctly spelling the words “aristocracy” and “volunteered,” respectively.
McWilliams was eliminated in the sixth round by the word, “technician.”
As winners of the 2014 Laurel County spelling bee, each student took home a trophy and a cash prize donated by the London/Laurel Optimist Club.
• Bush Elementary: Lauren Sotingeanu and Carter Finley
• Camp Ground Elementary: Jack Perkins and Chase Keen
• Cold Hill Elementary: Yash Bhopatkar and Anna Beth Johnson
• Colony Elementary; Lane Roberts and Leah Boggs
• Cornerstone Christian: Seth Marcum, Lincoln Webster, Darci Edwards and Regan Cantrell
• East Bernstadt Independent: Ty Jones, Destiny Day, Mac Harrison and Lynnzee Owens
• Hazel Green Elementary: Will Smith and Kelsey Overbay
• Hunter Hills Elementary: Alyssa Peace and Autumn Woods
• Johnson Elementary: Gavin Tincher and Alyssa Smith
• Keavy Elementary: Melanie McWilliams and Elyssa Rawlins
• London Elementary: Emily Bryant and Kyla Wilson
• North Laurel Middle School: Arjan Kanthawar and Usman Salim
• South Laurel Middle School: Lucas Reed and Leslie Dixon
• Sublimity Elementary: Kalle Williams and Jacob Hubbard
• Wyan-Pine Grove Elementary: Gavin Flores and Jacob Adams