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Rockdale student places fourth in State Bee

Jazz Duncan, a Memorial Middle sixth grader, placed fourth at the 2011 state Spelling Bee at Georgia State University Friday morning.

"I am extremely proud," said her mother Heather Duncan, minutes after the bee wrapped up. The competition was robust and Heather said she lost count after 36 rounds.

Duncan ended up stumbling on the word "acerbity," which eliminated her at the fourth runner up position. 

A few rounds before, however, there were some tense moments as Duncan's parents challenged the judges when Jazz had misspelled a word after the judge pronounced it several different ways, said Heather.

"She spoke to the fact she was confused if it was this or that" pronunciation, said Healther. "And he would repeat the word totally differently."

The judges rewound and listened to the tape of that round and decided to allow Jazz Duncan to enter back into the competition at the next round.

Word definitions and origins were key to allowing Duncan to spell many of the words. "There were a lot of words she wasn’t familiar with, but as soon as she got the definition, she got the word," said her mother. "It clarified a lot for her."

Duncan had won the Rockdale County bee on Feb. 4 and the regional bee on Feb. 26, and had placed second in last year's county bee.

Her older brother Jaire Duncan, a MMS eighth grader and two-time Rockdale County bee winner, had been to the state bee twice in the last two years, placing tenth and ninth.

Fulton County student Julia Denniss of the Marist School went on to win this year's state bee, making her the first three-time state champion. She will head to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington in June. The winning word was "planisphere."

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