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Stephanie Lightsey, eighth grade student at Clements Middle School, probably doesn't have to worry much with running spell check.

Lightsey took first place in the 2008 Newton County School System Spelling Bee Wednesday morning. Most students wrung their hands or froze while spelling out their answers, but Lightsey simply grabbed the microphone and let the letters roll off her tongue.

"I just sat up here, and my hands were all sweaty, and I just tried to stay calm," Lightsey said.

Lightsey has won the county bee as a fourth, fifth, sixth and now eighth grader. This is the last year she will be eligible to compete since the bee is only open to students in fourth through eighth grade.

"This year we didn't really study," Lightsey said. "I don't know why."

She said not practicing as much as in previous years with lists found on the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee Web site made her nervous and she did not think she would even place.

However, her mother Renee randomly asked her how to spell "hydrangea" a couple of days before the contest.

Runner-up Tiesha Cullins of Cousins Middle School misspelled "hydrangea" and then, as the rules state, Lightsey had to correctly spell what her challenger had missed before tackling the final word.

Lightsey won the bee with the word cornucopia.

Former Newton County educators Lee Aldridge, Ann Blaker and Louise Adams acted as the contest's judges and supplied definitions, sentences and etymology when requested by the spellers.

Linda Wade, a former Newton County Schools librarian, called the words to the spellers and congratulated all of them before the practice round.

"It's just so wonderful to already be a winner before you even start," Wade said. "We're all so proud of you."

 NCSS Director of Elementary Curriculum Ken Proctor and Director of Middle School Curriculum Adria Griffin handed trophies to Lightsey and Cullins at the end of the event, which lasted approximately an hour, as well has gave certificates to all contestants and alternates.

"These students have worked very hard to get here," Proctor said.

Competing in the event were Caitlin Smith of East Newton Elementary, Jean Pham of Fairview Elementary, Courage Ogie of Ficquett Elementary, Janae Flowers of Heard-Mixon Elementary, Katelynn Holland and Livingston Elementary, Stephen Castleberry of Mansfield Elementary, Kai Patterson of Middle Ridge Elementary, Elise McDonald of Oak Hill Elementary, Kiara Mulkey of Palmer-Stone Elementary, Jeremy Walton of Porterdale Elementary, Emmanual Badru of Rocky Plains Elementary, Kayla Johnson of West Newton Elementary, Jaleel Brown of Indian Creek Middle and Maceo Maddox of Veterans Memorial Middle, who placed third in the competition.

Alternates were Samantha Temple of East Newton Elementary, Mauricsa Piper of Fairview Elementary, Tamara Lowe of Ficquett Elementary, Allison Simmons of Heard-Mixon Elementary, Savannah Grunhard of Livingston Elementary, Savannah Smith of Mansfield Elementary, Gillian Wilson of Middle Ridge Elementary, Charles Barksdale of Oak Hill Elementary, Taji Steele of Palmer-Stone Elementary, Kenny Morgan of Porterdale Elementary, Breanna Harris of Rocky Plains Elementary, Justin Edgar of West Newton Elementary, Ian Bachiller of Clements Middle, Kiamber Marks of Cousins Middle, Timari Fears of Indian Creek Middle and Kyle Churchville of Veterans Memorial Middle.