Fourth-grader wins Muscogee County spelling bee

Muscogee County School District spelling bee champion talks about competition

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Fourth-grader wins spelling bee

A fourth-grader, the youngest grade eligible, won the Muscogee County School District 2016 Spelling Bee on Wednesday.

Joshua Trost of Hannan Magnet Academy spelled "kavya" (a style of Sanskrit poetry) and then "vulnerable" to clinch the championship out of 44 contestants in grades 4-8.

He told the Ledger-Enquirer after his victory that, when he saw the eighth-graders towering over him on the Patrick Theatre stage of the Columbus Museum, "I thought I wasn't going to win." But beating them shows him, if he studies, "anything is possible," he said.

The second- and third-place finishers also attend elementary school. Eagle Ridge Academy fifth-grader Ashley Warren was the runner-up, and Britt David Magnet Academy fourth-grader Tyler Patel took third.

As the district's top two finishers, Joshua and Ashley received spots in the Region 6 competition on Feb. 27 at Fort Valley State University, where the participants will try to qualify for the state title on March 18 at Zoo Atlanta

After four rounds, Joshua, Ashley and Tyler were the lone spellers left on stage. Tyler spelled "freesia," Joshua spelled "nunchaku," and Ashley spelled "concatenate" in the fifth round.

In the sixth round, Tyler misspelled "Iroquois," Joshua spelled "schnauzer," and Ashley misspelled "regatta." That meant Joshua became a finalist, and Ashley and Tyler competed to join him.

Tyler misspelled "sevruga," and Ashley spelled "omnivorous," so Ashley and Joshua went one-on-one for the title. If one of them misspelled a word, the other had to spell the next two words to become the champion.

In the final round, Joshua stumbled on "chintz" " and "got a little bit scared," he said. He received a reprieve, however, when Ashley, after spelling "blithe," misspelled "etymology." That's when Joshua thought, "I can win," he said.

Joshua spelled "keelhaul," and Ashley misspelled "monotonous," giving him the opening to win. And he converted, spelling "kavya" and "vulnerable" to emerge victorious.

"It feels great," he said as he cradled the first-place trophy and what he called a "giant" dictionary.

"Man, I was a nervous wreck," said Joshua's father, David. "Every time he went up there, I can't explain it. I'm so proud of him, very, very proud of him. He worked very hard."

Joshua studied the district's word list every night, including weekends, but his teacher, Jennifer Richardson, contends his spelling success also comes from the estimated 30 books he has read this school year, amounting to more than 1 million words. She called him "a very avid reader, very intelligent."

Despite his son's preparation, David admitted, "I didn't think he could do it, fourth grade against these eighth-graders."

So the father provided extra motivation: He promised his son a cellphone if he won the title.

David said with a laugh, "I didn't think he'd win. Now it's time to pay up."

WTVM news anchor Chuck Leonard was the bee's pronouncer. The judges were retired MCSD educators Karon Greyer and Harriet Steed and L-E executive editor Dimon Kendrick-Holmes. MCSD English language arts and social studies content specialist Jackie Mumpower coordinated the event.

Mark Rice, 706-576-6272. Follow him on Twitter@MarkRiceLE.


Are you smarter than a student in grades 4-8 -- or at least a better speller? Well, here's your chance to prove it, with the misspelled words from the Muscogee County School District 2016 Spelling Bee:

First round: tarmac, tenement, diametrically, esoteric, resilience, Gemini, caftan (or kaftan), synthetic, hubris, infrastructure, umbrage, résumé, germane, smorgasbord, quasar, languish, espadrille, tarantula, melee, schnitzel, Sanskrit, buoyancy, phoenix, porcelain, effusive, ostensibly, par excellence

Second round: esplanade, reciprocate, obelisk, gossamer, guttural, xenophobic, basilica, pulchritude, eleemosynary, oubliette, corsair

Third round: echelon, desiccate

Fourth round: potpourri

Sixth round: Iroquois, regatta

Seventh round: sevruga

Eighth round: chintz, etymology

Final round: monotonous