The top three winners and alternate from the Upshur County Schools Spelling Bee, held Thursday at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, will represent Upshur County Schools in the regional spelling bee. One winner will be selected during the regional bee and travel to Washington, D.C. to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Winners from Thursday’s competition are first place, Bryce Nguyen; second place, Kenton Stump; third place, Lila Wright; and alternate Bella Wolfe. / Photo by Beth Christian Broschart

‘Phenomenal’ speller captures first place in county bee for a second consecutive year

TENNERTON – Buckhannon-Upshur High School auditorium was all ‘abuzz’ Thursday as students from all Upshur County Elementary Schools and Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School busied themselves striving to be the top speller and win a spot to compete at the upcoming regional spelling bee.

The regional spelling bee is the place spellers can punch their ticket to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington. D.C.

In the first round, students attempted to spell words such as ‘impolite,’ ‘Juneteenth,’ ‘larkspur’ and ‘chai.’ And in the second round, contestants’ spelling words included ‘porcine,’ ‘primordial’ and ‘bantlings.’

Round three kicked off with only the top four students remaining in the competition and winner Bryce Nguyen correctly spelled ‘phenomenal’ for the win.

Participants in the 2022 Upshur County Schools ‘What’s the Buzz?’ Spelling Bee were Kenton Stump, 6th grade, B-UMS; Shelby Vaughan, 6th grade, B-UMS; Sylas Knight, 7th grade, B-UMS; Kayden Thomas, 7th grade, B-UMS; Bryce Nguyen, 8th grade, B-UMS; Lila Wright, 8th grade, B-UMS; Brock Williams, 4th grade, Buckhannon Academy Elementary School; Miley Tallman, 5th grade, Buckhannon Academy Elementary School; Savannah McCartney, 4th grade, French Creek Elementary; Bella Wolfe, 5th grade, French Creek Elementary; Gemma Casella, 4th grade, Hodgesville Elementary; Aurora Ware, 5th grade, Hodgesville Elementary; Katelyn Goetsch, 4th grade, Rock Cave Elementary; Wesley Smith, 5th grade, Rock Cave Elementary; Brooklyn Butler, 4th grade, Tennerton Elementary; Payton Brown, 5th grade, Tennerton Elementary; Kynzie Ball, 4th grade, Union Elementary; Emma Pingley, 5th grade, Union Elementary; Gabriella Moreland, 4th grade, Washington District Elementary; and Halle Moody, 5th grade, Washington District Elementary.

Taking the first-place spot in the Upshur County Schools Spelling Bee on Thursday was Bryce Nguyen, son of Vu Nguyen and Nguyen Tran, who was also the first-place winner in the 2021 Upshur County Schools Spelling Bee. Bryce, who is 14 years old, attends Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School and is in 8th grade.

“I feel happy to have won again,” Bryce said, adding that when he prepares for the competition, he reviews the entire spelling list. “I have an app to help me learn to spell.”

Kenton Stump, who is in sixth grade at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School, captured second place in the spelling bee. Kenton is 11 years old and is the son of Joshua and Amberly Stump.

“I placed second last year in the Upshur County Schools Spelling Bee,” Kenton said. “I am fortunate that my Social Studies teacher helps me study and prepare for the spelling bee. Sometimes I go through the big book with the spelling words and other times, I think of words and try to spell them.”

Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School eighth-grader Lila Wright was the third-place winner in Thursday’s spelling bee. Lila is the daughter of Rodney and Daya Wright.

“I have placed every year that I have been in the competition,” Lila said. “When I am preparing for the Spelling Bee, my mom helps out a lot. She reads out the words and I spell them back to her. I do some studying on my own at school as well.”

Coming in fourth place and securing a spot as the alternate in the Upshur County Schools Spelling Bee was a fifth-grader from French Creek Elementary School Bella Wolfe. Bella, who is 11 years old, is the daughter of Rebecca Young and William Wolfe.

“This is the first time I have participated in the Upshur County Schools Spelling Bee, and I really didn’t have a strategy,” Bella said.

Upshur County Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus welcomed those gathered for the competition and had the students spell the word ‘success’ because when she thinks of the students, that is the word that comes to her mind, she said.

“That is what I think of when I think of all of the students who are here tonight,” Stankus said. “We were just saying that one of you could end up in Washington, D.C. in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. We will be sending three students to compete in the regionals. We are very excited about tonight.”

Stankus thanked the families for encouraging their students.

“Thank you to the teachers that are inspiring the students,” Stankus said. “I am so amazed at all the things that happen in our classrooms.”

Stankus thanked Jody Johnson, director of federal programs; Melinda Stewart, director of secondary curriculum; and Kayla Yocum, technology system/digital communication specialist for organizing the event.

“Thanks to The Record Delta for sponsoring the Spelling Bee,” Stankus said.

Jonathon Pollock, principal of Buckhannon-Upshur High School, served as the emcee and pronouncer for the event.

Middle-school participants in the 2022 Upshur County Schools ‘What’s the Buzz?’ Spelling Bee include: Kenton Stump, 6th grade, B-UMS; Shelby Vaughan, 6th grade, B-UMS; Sylas Knight, 7th grade, B-UMS; Kayden Thomas, 7th grade, B-UMS; Bryce Nguyen, 8th grade, B-UMS; and Lila Wright, 8th grade, B-UMS.

Elementary students participating include Brock Williams, 4th grade, Buckhannon Academy Elementary School; Miley Tallman, 5th grade, Buckhannon Academy Elementary School; Savannah McCartney, 4th grade, French Creek Elementary; Bella Wolfe, 5th grade, French Creek Elementary; Gemma Casella, 4th grade, Hodgesville Elementary; Aurora Ware, 5th grade, Hodgesville Elementary; Katelyn Goetsch, 4th grade, Rock Cave Elementary; Wesley Smith, 5th grade, Rock Cave Elementary; Brooklyn Butler, 4th grade, Tennerton Elementary; Payton Brown, 5th grade, Tennerton Elementary; Kynzie Ball, 4th grade, Union Elementary; Emma Pingley, 5th grade, Union Elementary; Gabriella Moreland, 4th grade, Washington District Elementary; and Halle Moody, 5th grade, Washington District Elementary.

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