HAMLET — Whether stuffed into pockets or tangled in laps, their hands were damp with nerves and excitement (e-x-c-i-t-e-m-e-n-t, “excitement”). And so were their parents’.
The 11 contestants in Wednesday’s 2018 spelling bee for Richmond County Schools took less than a half-hour to determine the champion in their midst, falling one by one over five rounds to “thermal,” “bruin,” “cauliflower” and their ilk.
“Oh, my gosh! My hands are so sweaty!” exclaimed April Maness of Ellerbe, when her daughter, Hailey, of Ellerbe Middle School, won the morning bee by correctly spelling “talc.”
So, too, were Hailey’s hands, she admitted. She had studied for the bee, but only “a little bit,” she said, holding up a blue-nailed thumb and index finger.
For 90 years, the Scripps National Spelling Bee has determined a champion speller from among thousands of students across the country. This year, the national bee will be May 30 and 31, in Washington, D.C. — the culmination of months of bees in school classrooms, district assemblies and statewide venues.
Hailey’s next stop will be at a regional contest sponsored by the Charlotte Observer, which provided the list of words for Wednesday morning’s contest. Each competitor had the list, which many practiced with parents, grandparents and teachers.
Logan Emery, a fifth-grader at Fairview Heights Elementary School, thought that perhaps he had a leg up on the competition Wednesday. He reads all the time, and he has allergies to eggs and peanuts, so is well aware of many polysyllabic words on food packaging that signal him to beware.
Yet, he was the first to fall Wednesday, with the word “workmanship.” (He spelled it with an “e,” not an “a.”)
“They gave me a harder word” than everyone else in the first round, he complained, although another competitor muffed the word “frolic” in the same round.
Still, he can always try against next year, if he’s p-e-r-s-i-s-t-e-n-t. For Hailey, an eighth-grader, it’s the last spelling bee hurrah.
Reach Christine Carroll at 910-817-2673 or [email protected]