The Valdosta Daily Times
One of the youngest students competing in the Valdosta City Schools system-wide Spelling Bee Friday emerged victorious after several rounds of play at the Valdosta High School Performing Arts Center.
Dennis Austin of W.G. Nunn Elementary School won first place after his last competitor, Emma Jack of S.L. Mason Elementary School, was unable to spell “bungalow.” Austin successfully spelled the word and clinched the win by next spelling the word “newton” correctly.
With 24 students participating from grades 4-8, and ranging in age from 9 to 14, the Spelling Bee was highly competitive. The top three from each school’s spelling bees competed in the system-wide event, including students from J.L. Lomax, Sallas Mahone Elementary, S.L. Mason Elementary Southeast Elementary, W.G. Nunn Elementary, Newbern Middle, Valdosta Middle, and Valdosta Early College Academy.
Retired educator Vickie Burt served as word caller for the event, which was coordinated by Dr. Cheryl Copeland. Roy Copeland, president of 100 Black Men of Valdosta and a Bee sponsor, presented an introduction for the event, with Scarlet Brown, Dr. Ulysses Mims and Kay Harris serving as judges.
Fifteen of the 24 contestants were not able to make it past the first round of words, which included words such as “mitigate,” “optometry,” and “salubrious.” The number of students dwindled within a few rounds to the last four, each of whom received a trophy. All participating students received a pin, certificate and a medal at the end of the bee from City School Superintendent Dr. Bill Cason and Mr. Copeland.
The final four students were Dennis Austin, first place; Emma Jack, second place; Dylan Durham, third place; and Kenyatta Williams, fourth place.
The complete list of students participating were Daliyah Bennett, Nehemiah Ferguson and Rufus Freeman of J. L. Lomax; Tate Forcella, Crystal Wang, and Weston Wright of Sallas Mahone; Owen Anderson, Russell Hunter, and Emma Jack of S. L. Mason; Elizabeth Stewart, Serenity Walker, and Shamya White of Southeast Elementary; Dennis Austin, Jylon Bennett and Brianna Breeden of W.G. Nunn; Jaylen Cannon, Zantaria Sanders, and Kenyatta Williams of Newbern Middle; Walter Bradley, Braden Colbert, and Dylan Durham of Valdosta Middle; and Davonte Jones, Michael Williams and Annalise Wojcik of Valdosta Early College Academy.
Austin, as the winning student, will partipate in the District-wide Spelling Bee on Feb. 23 in Moultrie.