Two students from Columbus are among the 20 in the state who have earned the right to compete in the 2019 Georgia Spelling Bee.
St. Anne-Pacelli Catholic School eighth-grader Elizabeth Turner finished first and Reese Road Leadership Academy fifth-grader Ryan Tadiparthi finished second out of 17 competitors in the Region 6 bee Saturday at Fort Valley State University.
They will join the other region winners and runners-up at the state bee, conducted by the Georgia Association of Educators, March 15 in the Georgia State University student center, starting at 11 a.m.
Elizabeth qualified for the region bee by finishing third in the Catholic Diocese of Savannah competition. Ryan qualified for the region bee by winning the Muscogee County School District title.
Students in grades fourth-eighth are eligible to compete.
Elizabeth said, “I wasn’t really expecting to win, but I’m very happy that I did. … I studied a lot, but I thought there would be another kid there who studied more than me and would know it better than me — just a lack of optimism.”
Ryan said advancing to the state bee “feels nice, but it would have been better if I got first place.”
The word Ryan missed — “snuggled” — was because he misheard it, he said. He spelled “snuggle” instead.
The pronouncer’s microphone, Ryan said, “was echoing. I couldn’t hear properly.”
Elizabeth couldn’t recall in her interview with the Ledger-Enquirer which word she spelled after Ryan’s miss, but “tasteless” was her winning word, in the 14th round.
She won a trophy and $200.
Her toughest round, Elizabeth said, was the vocabulary round, when she had to choose one of two options to define “hinterland.” Her options were “abandoned territory” or “rural area,” and she correctly chose the latter.
Her toughest spelling word, she said, was “geranium,” but she knew the word because it was on the list she had studied. At the state bee, however, “the entire dictionary will be fair game,” she said.
Elizabeth acknowledged she was “very nervous,” but she overcame her jitters with this mindset: “Whenever you’re about to do something, you’re really nervous,” she said. “But once you do it, the nerves go away.”
She credits St. Anne middle school vice principal Angel Cash, her teachers and her parents “for helping me study and get through this.”
Although he said Elizabeth “got easy words,” Ryan cheered himself up by realizing he still qualified for the state bee.
“The good thing is I competed,” he said, “even though I didn’t win.”
He received “a big trophy and $100” for finishing second in the region, Ryan said.
“I’m proud of myself,” he said, “and I thank my teachers for supporting me and my parents.”
Mark Rice, 706-576-6272, @MarkRiceLE.