Ralph Brown, an eighth-grader at Newton County Theme School at Ficquett, picked up a trophy and the title as the 2014 Newton County Spelling Bee Champion after competing in the county-wide spelling competition at Newton High School Friday.
Ralph successfully spelled words against 18 other contestants from each of Newton County’s elementary and middle schools. He correctly spelled "pyrotechnics" in a final round against runner-up Jessi Books of Indian Creek Middle School.
As the Newton County winner of the spelling bee, Ralph will represent the county at the Regional Spelling Bee Saturday, March 1, 2014 at 10 a.m. at Putnam County Middle School in Eatonton. Jessi will serve as an alternate.
After eight rounds of competition, Ralph and Jessi were the last two spellers left standing. With just two contestants, the elimination procedure changed.
When a speller misspelled a word, the other contestant was given the opportunity to spell the same word. If the second contestant spelled the word correctly and spelled the next word on the caller’s list correctly, he or she would be declared the champion.
If the second speller misspelled the new word after correcting the first contestant’s error, the first contestant would be declared the champion if he or she spelled the misspelled word and the next word on the caller’s list correctly.
When Jessi incorrectly spelled the word "bizarre," Ralph stepped up to the microphone and spelled the word correctly. When Ralph spelled the next word, "pyrotechnics" correctly, he was pronounced the champion of the spelling bee.
"I didn’t expect to win," Ralph said after the competition. "It makes me feel like my day is going to go a lot smoother."
Ralph said he has always been good at spelling and that he really enjoyed reading, writing and spelling different words. To prepare for the bee, he said he studied the word list a lot.
"All the preparation I have done has paid off because now I get to take home this big trophy," Ralph said.
Runner-up Jessi said she was nervous starting off during the spelling bee. Jessi represented Indian Creek Middle School in last year’s spelling bee as an alternate, but she said she really enjoyed being in this year’s competition.
"I’m pretty excited. I’m glad I got to be runner-up," she said.
Jessi explained that during the bee, some words weren’t as easy to spell. She said, "Some of the words were more difficult than others, but if I studied more, I could have gotten them."
Other spellers competing in the bee included Jaisen Fignole, Middle Ridge Elementary; Jayla Byrd, Flint Hill Elementary; Laura Jean Dole, Cousins Middle School; Jet Rawls, East Newton Elementary; Hunter Borg, Mansfield Elementary; Lewis Naza, Liberty Middle; T’raja Jordan, South Salem Elementary; Emanuel Benjamin, Porterdale Elementary; Kelly Ann Baker, Fairview Elementary; Alayna Reilly, Oak Hill Elementary; Emerson Greenridge III, West Newton Elementary; Gavin Grindle, Veterans Memorial Middle; Caden Grindle, Heard-Mixon Elementary; Casey Roberson, Clements Middle School; Jackson Wilkins, Live Oak Elementary; Teagan Roberts, Livingston Elementary; and Tayla Williams, Rocky Plains Elementary.