Inyo County’s top spellers took center stage Thursday for the 35th Annual Spelling Bee. With looks of astonishment and dropped jaws from audience members, these masters of the dictionary did not disappoint.
Students from nine local elementary, middle and high schools throughout Inyo County struggled to spell words like “solicitous” and “belligerent.” Some spellers were cool and composed, smiling and politely asking for definitions or to use the word in a sentence. Some were clearly nervous and lacked confidence, despite having earned one of the 46 seats at the prestigious event.
One speller got a chuckle from the audience as she sputtered out, “mis-s-pel-l, misspell?”
Kevin Sprague from Bishop High School won first place in the high school division of the Inyo County Spelling Bee. Sprague had dominated the elementary contests the last two years in a row and now has a first place for Bishop High. Sprague correctly spelled “blitzkrieg” for the win.
Tenaya Morelock from Round Valley School won first place for the elementary/middle school competition with “legalese.” This is Morelock’s third competition.
There was also a special guest at this year’s Bee. Retired Principal and educator, Mary Franke was in the audience to present the awards and share stories of Bee’s past.
Franke, is credited with beginning the spelling competition in Bishop 35 years ago. She said that the first competition pit students against parents.
Other high school contestants included: Chelsea Chapeliere, Ashley Chapeliere, and Navjot Singh from Lone Pine, Jeziel Machado from Sierra Alternative Learning Academy, Nicole Schuler, Sheyanne Wilder and Jacqueline Schuler from Owens Valley, Jamie Clignett, Lillian Meacham, and Karina Morales from Bishop.
The other elementary/middle school contestants included: Kennah Davis, Sydney Frigerio and Zoe Freilich from Round Valley, Gabriella Morales from Adventist Christian, Shelby Hess, Max Taylor, Carter Silva, Jennifer Velazquez and Janaya Bruce, from Pine and Home Street schools, Nolan Brito, Makenzie Brown, Audrey Bear and Bailey Cruz, from Big Pine, Gabriel Ratchford, Emily Faircloth, Naiya Warren, Luz Nunez, and Steven Mathes from Owens Valley.
The competition was judged by Alden Nash, Pete Korngiebel and Lynn Lamb. Benett Kessler returned this year as the pronouncer for the competitions. Katie Fowler was the Spell Master for the Preliminary Written Competition for 25 elementary and middle school contenders and Terry McAteer was Spell Master for the vocal competition.
Local businesses, individuals and service clubs donated more than $1,300 in money and gift certificates.