HOWARD — On Monday, East Knox Middle School hosted the 50th Annual Knox County Spelling Bee, with 19 spellers competing for the county champion title.
The budding wordsmiths, ranging from fifth-graders to eighth-graders, represented Centerburg, Danville, East Knox, Fredericktown and Mount Vernon in the contest.
John Jurkowitz, Knox County Educational Service Center consultant, served as the bee’s coordinator and pronouncer. He introduced each contestant, and gave a brief commentary of each individual’s favorite subject, hobbies and future goals. He also reviewed the contest rules for the audience’s benefit and reminded the spellers to use the “lifelines” available to them.
Round 1 featured words such as mildew, significant, denominator and pharmacy, and one speller was eliminated.
Eleven students successfully completed Round 2, correctly fielding words such as condemn, apprentice, monopolize and scholarship.
In Round 3, words such as conundrum, calisthenics and psychoanalysis stumped six spellers, and Round 4 began with five contestants still in the running. Infatuation and brigadier were spelled correctly in Round 4, and Mount Vernon seventh-grader Toby Baumann and Mount Vernon eighth-grader Zach Merrilees advanced to Round 5.
Merrilees’ correct spelling of enfranchise was matched by Baumann with anemone, and both advanced to Round 6.
After Merrilees missed adieu, Baumann correctly spelled paramecium. He stood alone in Round 7 and correctly spelled periscope, clinching the championship for the second year in a row. As champion, Baumann will represent Knox County in the Sheridan Worldwise Regional Spelling Bee on March 6.
Centerburg was represented by LeighAnn Vargo, grade five; Emily Sweazey, grade six; Brendan Mapes, grade seven; and Emily Veach, grade eight.
Danville spellers included Bethany Davis, grade five; David Alden, grade six; Alyssa Urban, grade seven; and David McCartney, grade eight.
East Knox contestants were Connor Overturf, grade five; Trystan Layne, grade six; Tiffany Poland, grade seven; and Bobby Cornwell, grade eight.
Fredericktown contenders included Holly McClay, grade five; Emma Hoeflich, grade six; Brandon Schiraldi, grade seven; and Madison Lotz, grade eight.
In addition to Baumann and Merrilees, Mount Vernon was represented by Shelby Erlandson, grade six.
Judges for the event were Knox County Commissioners Teresa Bemiller, Allen Stockberger and Robert Wise. Trophies for the champion and runner-up were provided by the Knox County ESC; the Mount Vernon Rotary foundation contributed gift certificates and T-shirts to the contestants, and a savings bond for the champion. Colonial Book Shop and Kids’ Shelf provided discounts for gift certificates.