County spelling bee returning

PNT Staff Report

A county spelling bee is coming back to Roosevelt County and spellers are busy studying their Paideas in anticipation.

Winners and runners-up from school spelling competitions will meet on Saturday at Eastern New Mexico University’s Becky Sharp Auditorium to compete in the Roosevelt County Spelling Bee.

Betty Williamson, county bee director, said this is the first time a county-level spelling bee has been held here in 10 years.

“This all represents a change for our local schools,” Williamson explained. “Since 1999, our Roosevelt County spellers have competed in a region made up of only Roosevelt, Curry, Quay and Union counties. That region did not have a sponsor this year, so in order for our students to have the opportunity to advance, we rejoined the region we were in for many year, sponsored by the Amarillo Globe News.”

Spellers will compete in two divisions based on grade-level. Junior competitors fifth grade and lower, will begin spelling at 9 a.m. Immediately following completion of that competition, senior spellers (those in grades 6-8, as well as those from lower grades who have opted to enter the senior competition) will test their knowledge.

The winner of the senior division will receive a $500 scholarship from ENMU, as well as the opportunity to represent Roosevelt County at the regional spelling bee on March 22 at West Texas State University in Canyon, Texas. The winner from that competition advances to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC, in May.

“Another major change this year is that Scripps (sponsor of the National Spelling Bee) instituted a $99 registration fee for every school who wanted to participate this year,” Williamson said. “I don’t know what the impact has been nationwide, but I know within our former region, a number of schools opted to no longer participate.”

Williamson said that when Roosevelt County students were participating in the small eastern New Mexico region, one speller from each school advanced instead of only having four county winners compete. By rejoining the larger region, she said, it was necessary to re-form the county level competition.

While junior spellers cannot advance beyond the county level, they will be competing for the title of Junior Level County Champion. The junior champion is also invited to compete with senior spellers, should he or she want to, Williamson said.

“The Spelling Bee is a fun event to watch,” Williamson added, noting that the public is encouraged to attend. “I’m very grateful to ENMU for welcoming us back so warmly, and for offering such a generous scholarship for our senior champion.”

Junior division spellers competing include:
• Tobin Alford, 9, Faith Triumphant Christian School champion, son of Bobby and Corene Alford;
• Brandon Hughes, 10, Faith Triumphant Christian School runner-up, son of Dennis and Lisa Hughes;
• Samuel McConnell, 9, Homeschool PACT runner-up, son of Mark and Betty McConnell;
• Tyler Richardson, 9, Floyd Elementary School runner-up, son of Kenny and Kelli Richardson;
• Amanda Schmidt, 10, Floyd Elementary School champion, daughter of Craig Schmidt and Lisa Schmidt; and
• Louie Pollock, 9, Homeschool PACT champion, son of Darren Pollock and Lisa Reichert.

Senior division spellers competing include:
• Madison Barnard, 11, Floyd Middle School champion, daughter of Tab and Debora Barnard;
• Katie Bickley, 12, Homeschool PACT champion, daughter of Milz Bickley and Betty Williamson;
• Devon Brent, 12, Lindsey Elementary School champion, son of Troy and Amanda Brent;
• Hannah Christensen, 13, Portales Junior High champion, daughter of Chris and Heather Christensen;
• Rachel Cox, 12, Dora School champion, daughter of Tom and Robin Cox;
• Kaycee Craig, 11, Lindsey Elementary School runner-up, daughter of Kevin and Barbara Craig;
• Prisma Davalos, 13, Floyd Middle School runner-up, daughter of Abraham and Maria Davalos;
• Byron Hughes, 13, Faith Triumphant Christian School runner-up, son of Dennis and Lisa Hughes;
• Ariel Lutnesky, 10, Valencia Elementary School runner-up, daughter of Marvin Lutnesky;
• Mathew Sanchez, 10, Valencia Elementary School champion, son of Mark and Lisa Sanchez;
• Russell Van Dam, 13, Portales Junior High runner-up, son of Don and Wilma Van Dam; and
• Andrew Winnett, 11, Faith Triumphant Christian School champion, son of Beverly Winnett. Elida School did not register to compete this year, Williamson said.