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This year’s Lamar County Spelling Bee is a true orthographic Olympian.
Steele Musgrove, an eighth-grade student at Stone Middle School, spelled the Greek-based word to win the hour-long bee Tuesday at North Lamar High School. He will advance to the Dallas Morning News regional competition. The winner of that competition heads to the national competition in Washington D.C.
“I wanted to get Nirvana,” said Steele, who was wearing a T-shirt for the band.
Jonathan Greenwell, a fourth-grade student at Bailey Intermediate, was runner-up and will represent Lamar County in case Steele can’t make it to the regional competition.
They were the top two out of 19 contestants who participated. The competition is open to fourth through eighth graders who win a spelling bee at school before advancing to the county event.
Spellers were given a word. A misspelling word took the child out of the competition. When it got to the last two, a missed word was passed on to the other contestant, who had to spell that one and a follow-up word correctly to win. Regional rules are a little different, coordinator Carolyn Patterson said.
The words came from a list supplied by the National Spelling Bee. Patterson selected the ones used for the Lamar County Spelling Bee. Aside from her, the only person to see the list was the pronouncer, Patsy Davis.
“I try to select words I think the students will be able to spell,” she said. “If they’re out of my vocabulary, the students don’t get them here.”
Emily O’Connor, an educational consultant, and Dr. Linda Winfrey, a NLHS English teacher, served as judges. If one of them rang a bell on their table, that meant the word was spelled wrong.
“Let’s keep this a silent competition as long as we can – no bells,” Patterson told the spellers. “The main thing is to be calm, cool and collected and think about the spelling of the word.”
It took eight rounds to determine a winner. Spellers rattled off words like “quiver,” “Slav,” “angelic,” “grabble,” “guru,” “aria” and “shogun,” while others found themselves stymied with such spellings as “dungaree,” “spartan,” “luau,” “temporal,” “predicate” and “bequeath.”
In the final round, Jonathan missed “renegade,” which passed to Steele. He got that word, and then “Olympian” for the win.
“I’m excited and super proud of him,” said sponsor Sara Garrett. “This is my first year as a sponsor. It’s very exciting for him.”
Spelling apparently runs in the family. His mother, Nicole Musgrove, went to regionals in the fifth and eighth grades, and her father also had several spelling awards.
“It’s what I was expecting,” she said. “We’ve been working hard. He’s been studying. We knew he was capable of it.”
Father Joey Musgrove, who teaches history at Stone Middle School, credits his wife with helping Steele w-i-n on Tuesday.
“It’s all Mom. Dad can’t spell ‘cat’ if you spot him the ‘c’ and the ‘a,’” he said. “He’s worked hard. He deserves it.”
Steele was also the 2011 Lamar County winner, when he came in third place at the regional competition.
“Last year, I lost at school. Being back here and winning it is pretty exciting,” Steele said. “I’m going to try to get first in regionals.”
This year’s participants also included: