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.”