Students check their spelling at annual bee

March 25, 2007|By TARA REILLY

Damien Clipp's "cachet" on Saturday was leaving Western Heights Middle School as Washington County's top eighth-grade speller.

Damien, an E. Russell Hicks Middle School student, correctly spelled cachet in the eighth-grade competition of the 28th annual Washington County Spelling Bee on Saturday after going 10 rounds.

By winning, he earned a trip to the 2007 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., on May 30 and 31.

The Herald-Mail Co. sponsored the county spelling bee and is sending Damien and a parent to the national competition.

Cachet is a noun with several meanings, including distinction or prestige, according to Webster's New World College Dictionary.

Damien said he studied words every day to prepare, but he was uncertain of how well he would do.

"It seemed like the other kids were good at it, too, so I wasn't sure," he said.

Damien's parents, Staci and Richard, said they were proud of their son, and that they planned to continue helping him study.


"I knew he could do it," his mother said.

Damien said he was a little nervous when the competition began, "but then a lot of people started leaving, so then I calmed down some."

"I'm kinda relieved," he said. "I still know I have to study more."

Throughout the spelling bee, most students sat still on stage awaiting their turn. Others leaned forward, nervously tapping a foot or a hand.

Some of words misspelled during the eighth-grade competition include nemesis, bureaucracy and arsenal.

Pronouncer Will Kauffman cracked a joke after Misty Seaton of Western Heights promptly spelled the odd-looking word muumuu correctly.

"Is it me, or did she not blink at muumuu?" Kauffman said.

Winners of the sixth- and seventh-grade spelling bees also were crowned Saturday.

Charles Smith, of Hancock Middle-Senior High School, was the top seventh-grade speller, and Tristan Prejean, of Heritage Academy, won the sixth-grade competition.

"My mom and I would go over words each night," said Tristan, 12, saying he would write three times each the words he misspelled.

Tristan correctly spelled mariachi, a noun that means a member of a strolling band of musicians in Mexico, according to Webster's New World College Dictionary.

Charles' winning word was facetious in a close seventh-grade competition that lasted 15 rounds. The 12-year-old said his love of reading boosted his spelling skills.

Charles went back and forth with Dominique Forsman of Heritage Academy before winning.

"I was nervous, and there were a couple of points where I felt my heart would just explode out of my chest," he said.

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