For the second consecutive year, McKenzie Snyder, a seventh grade student at Cousins Middle School took home top honors at the Newton County School System Spelling Bee. She will now represent the district in the regional spelling bee in Putnam County later this month. Clements Middle School student Casey Roberson was this year’s runner-up.
Spelling Bee winners from each elementary and middle school in the county competed in the competition held at Newton High School on Feb. 6. After almost 40 rounds of competition, the pool was narrowed down to two finalists — McKenzie and Casey. When Casey finally stumbled on the word “maneuver,” McKenzie stepped to the microphone and spelled the word correctly. When she spelled the next word, “flabbergast” correctly, she was pronounced champion of the Newton County School System Spelling Bee.
“I was very nervous,” said McKenzie, who admitted there was a lot of extra pressure being the reigning spelling bee champion.
In addition to defending her title, McKenzie said she had a little extra incentive to study hard for the spelling bee. Her brother Matthew told her she wouldn’t win.
“He said I wouldn’t win but I proved him wrong,” she said, adding that she was going to take her trophy back to school to show him and everyone else that she one.
“Spelling is one of my hobbies,” McKenzie said. “I think it’s fun.”
To prepare for the bee, McKenzie said she practiced a lot.
“I take the list of spelling words to lunch every day and practice,” she said. “I also have the game ‘Spelling Bee’ on my computer, and that helps out a lot.”
McKenzie said she will continue practicing to prepare herself for the regional spelling bee. And she’s not content with simply matching her top five performances from last year.
“I want to win,” said McKenzie. “And I’d love to go to the National Spelling Bee, but I’d be very nervous.”
As the Newton County winner, McKenzie will now represent the county at the regional spelling bee on Feb. 23, at 10 a.m. at Putnam County Middle School in Eatonton.
“On behalf of the students and staff at Cousins Middle School, let me say how proud we are of McKenzie and her accomplishments,” said Scott Sauls, principal of CMS. “I had seen McKenzie in class in the days leading up to the county level event and I can say that she was excited and anxious to compete at this level.
“She is a great student, works hard daily and exemplifies what we like to see in the students in our school. Knowing that she is set to represent our county, for the second year in a row, makes this achievement even more special for her and for our school. Obviously, we wish her well and feel confident she will be successful at the regional level.”