BUCKHANNON – On Tuesday, 19 students from Upshur County Schools who were spelling winners at their respective schools went head-to-head to find the top three during the Upshur County Schools Spelling Bee. And since Tuesday was ‘Star Wars Day’ the organizers wished, “May the fourth ‘bee’ with you” to each student participating in the competition.
The competition began ‘in a galaxy far, far away’ where students in grades 4 through 8 began with spelling words like ‘gel’ and ‘fair’ before advancing to ‘rooster,’ ‘phalanges’ and ‘edification.’ The first-place winner was named after he spelled ‘abhorrence’ and ‘personnel’ correctly.
Bryce Nguyen, who is a seventh-grade student at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, captured first place. Bryce said he has placed first in the competition two times in the past. Bryce is the son of Joe Nguyen and Connie Tran of Buckhannon.
“This year, the list of words was daunting,” Bryce said, explaining in the past, the list had only contained 1,000 words compared with the 4,000 words this year. “I had help from my mother and we usually studied from 7 to 11 p.m.”
Bryce said while studying, his secret was to try and find patterns in the words he was studying.
“Sometimes I would look up the definitions of the words to help me spell them,” Bryce said. “For instance, the word ‘achromatic’ has the root ‘chrom’ and that helped me to spell it.”
In school, Bryce said he doesn’t have one favorite subject, but really enjoys them all.
“When I grow up, I would like to become a doctor in the medical field,” Bryce said.
Second place went to Kenton Stump, a fifth-grader at French Creek Elementary School and third place was captured by Lila Wright, a seventh-grade student at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School.
The Upshur County Schools Spelling Bee was hosted by the Upshur County Schools Curriculum Department. Jody Johnson, director of curriculum and federal programs, said students participating in Tuesday’s competition won spelling contests at their respective schools. She said because of the pandemic, West Virginia would not be hosting any regional or state spelling bees.
“We decided to have the county spelling bees,” Johnson said. “We worked with our local principals and they sponsored contests at their schools and came up with a winner in 4th, 5th, 6th, 7th and 8th grades as well as alternates.”
Johnson said she believes competitions such as the spelling bee shine a light on academics.
“Many times, we spotlight sports and not academics,” Johnson said. “The spelling bee highlights what the students learn in the written word.”
Director of Secondary Curriculum Melinda Stewart said she feels the spelling bee also allows families to be involved.
“Often times, we do competitions at school and recognize students at school,” Stewart said. “This spelling bee gives our community and our families an opportunity to be involved and it puts students in a position of public speaking so they get an opportunity to practice those skills as well.”
Stewart said students in Sarah Wamsley’s digital imaging class at Buckhannon-Upshur High School used a glow forge machine to make the awards for the spelling bee participants as well as the plaques for the first, second and third-place winners.
Judges for the evening were Macie Queen and Morgan Hinzman, staff writers from The Record Delta. The emcee was Katie Loudin, vice-president of the Upshur County Board of Education.
Those participating in the Upshur County Spelling Bee include Bailee Lowther, B-UHS, 6th grade; Bryce Nguyen, B-UHS, 7th grade; Lila Wright, B-UHS, 7th grade; Bear Metheny, B-UHS, 8th grade; Addison Zirkle, B-UHS, 8th grade; Emma Hardy, BAES, 4th grade; Rayna Rhoades, BAES, 5th grade; Zoey Burr, FCES, 4th grade; Kenton Stump, FCES, 5th grade; Bailey Moody, HES, 4th grade; Kaidin Wagner, HES, 5th grade; Isabella Nottingham, RCES, 4th grade; Sam Beckner, RCES, 5th grade; Madelyn Bennett, TES, 4th grade; Brylea Daugherty, TES, 5th grade; Ethan Orth, UES, 4th grade; Jackson Shepherd, UES, 5th grade; Halle Moody, WDES, 4th grade; and Luke Bennett, WDES, 5th grade.