DANVILLE — Eighteen students in grades six through eight were in the spotlight Thursday as the 49th annual Knox County Spelling Bee got under way at Danville High School. All winners at their schools, the students represented Centerburg, Danville, East Knox, Fredericktown and Mount Vernon and competed to see who would be the best speller of all.
Coordinator of the event and official pronouncer John Jurkowitz, consultant with the Knox County Educational Service Center, introduced each of the spellers and told about his or her favorite subject in school, hobbies, the college each would like to attend after graduation and career goals.
He explained the rules of the contest, and listed four “lifelines” available to the spellers. They could ask him to repeat a word, request a definition, have the word used in a sentence and ask for the language of origin.
After a practice round to acclimate the spellers to speaking into a microphone, on stage, in front of an audience, the match got under way.
Round 1 included words such as chocolate, ninja and chinchilla, and ended with 15 students still on stage. Four spellers were eliminated in Round 2, done in by forlorn, hassock, falsetto and herbivore. Eight spellers survived Round 3, correctly spelling words such as ventilate, tundra and daffodil. Shogun, benefactor and algebra were among the words spelled correctly in Round 4, and seven students advanced to Round 5.
The words were getting longer as five contestants blithely spelled out crochet, ramada, popularity, karate and extravaganza and moved on to Round 6. Shrapnel, affinity and exuberant finished out Round 7, and three spellers remained to start Round 8.
Then there were two. Toby Baumann, a sixth-grader from Mount Vernon City Schools challenged last year’s county champion Dylan Green, an eight-grader from East Knox, for the title.
piphany and insidious; festival and hawkeye; panelist and tissue; achievement and lettuce brought the match to Round 13, an unlucky round for Green who incorrectly spelled withdrawal. Baumann got his word, policy, correct and correctly spelled saucer in Round 14 to win the championship.
Baumann, who will advance to the Sheridan Worldwide Regional Spelling Bee on March 7, said he didn’t do a lot of preparation for the county match. “I practiced some,” he said, “and looked up some generalizations about word spellings. Then (today) I just walked around Gambier with my friends, not spelling, just clearing my mind.”
Baumann and Green received trophies donated by the Knox County Educational Service Center. The Mount Vernon Rotary Foundation contributed toward a savings bond for the winner of the contest, as well as T-shirts and gift certificates for all the contestants. Colonial Book Shop and Kids’ Shelf provided discounts for the gift certificates.
Judges included Knox County commissioners Teresa Bemiller and Allen Stockberger and county clerk/administrator Rochelle Shackle.