Johnson is spelling bee champ

Published 12:00 am Saturday, February 22, 2003

GMS eighth grader Jessica Johnson was the last speller standing when the countywide spelling bee concluded at the GMS auditorium, February 7.

Six contestants in grades 1-8 represented Butler County's schools: Brandon Brown, second grade, W.O. Parmer; Carlyshia Robinson, third grade, Greenville Elementary; Jessica Johnson, eighth grade, Greenville Middle School; Kristy Halford, sixth grade, R.L. Austin; Chris Johnson, seventh grade, Georgiana High School; and Charles Windham, sixth grade, McKenzie High School.

The contest lasted through five rounds and 34 words before narrowing the field to the final two contestants – GMS' Johnson and McKenzie's Windham.

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Windham was knocked out by the word &uot;fiery,&uot; which Johnson proceeded to correctly spell, along with the word &uot;cupid,&uot; to clinch the win.

With her win, Johnson now proceeds to the statewide competition that will be held at The Harbert Center in Birmingham on March 15.

Butler County Spelling Bee Coordinator, Claire Jones, said Johnson will face quite a few more contestants at the next level.

&uot;From here, she will compete against winners from all 67 counties, including those from private and home schools,&uot; Jones said. &uot;The words will come from the same list, called &uot;Paedia,&uot; that was used at our contest, and there are some really hard words in there.&uot;

As part of her award, Johnson will receive $100 from the Butler County Education Association to offset her food and lodging expenditures.

A parent will accompany her on the trip.

For Johnson, winning is only part of the reason she competes.

&uot;I think it's a good experience, because we get to meet a lot of different people and go to different places,&uot; she said. &uot;It expands your mind and helps you to have a bigger vocabulary. Being in front of people helps you grow and be more confident. I have been participating since the fifth grade.&uot;

First runner-up Windham also enjoys the competition, whether he wins or not.

&uot;The spelling bee is great because it gets your mind working n you have to think about the words and spell them correctly,&uot; he said. &uot;The other good thing is you get trophies, and if you are a winner, you get a good check. It's really fun, too. It teaches you to be disciplined in everything you do. This is my third year. Last year, I was second runner-up, so I'm going to keep trying.&uot;