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Three Lea County students qualify for state spelling bee

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Three Lea County students qualify for state spelling bee

Sawyer Bishop hesitated before he spelled the word “tomatillo.”

“I was a little put off by that word,” Bishop said after winning the Lea County spelling bee Wednesday night. “I wasn’t sure what it was until I heard the definition.”

He managed to spell that word correctly, as well as the word “macadamia” which clinched the championship for the fifth-grader from Yarbro Elementary School in Lovington.

I am so glad this is over and I won,” said Bishop. When he realized he was the champion, he ran off the stage and into the audience, where he waited until the second- and third-place winners were named.

Second place went to Akasha McBee, a sixth-grader at Caton Middle School in Eunice and third place to Uniqua Adonay, sixth-grader at Heizer Middle School.

All three are eligible to compete in the New Mexico State Spelling Bee scheduled for for March 18 in Albuquerque.

Wednesday’s competition, held in Tydings Auditorium, began as 25 students met on the stage and drew for the numbers they wore. They had an opportunity to learn to manipulate the microphone so that they could speak directly into it without having to either stand on tiptoe or bend over.

As the competition began, each student introduced himself or herself and gave the name of the school he or she attends.

After each introduction, Hobbs High teacher Paul Seeker, who served as pronouncer, said, “Your word is…”

Words in the first round were short, usually no more than five letters and one syllable. Every contestant made it through the first and second rounds. The third round, with multisyllable words like “manicure,” “necessary,” “nightingale” and “retrospective” proved to be the undoing of several contestants.

Rounds four and five contained words that were not only multisyllabic, but which also may have been less familiar to many students.

By round six, only six contestants were left. “Extravaganza,” “filibuster,” “omnipotent” and “gazpacho” were among the words students were asked to spell. One contestant issued an audible sigh and touched her heart when she correctly spelled plausible.

As the final three gathered on stage for pictures, they talked about how they prepared for the contest.

“I studied a lot,” Bishop said. “My parents called out words and I spelled them out loud.”

McBee described a similar study routine. “It was me and my mom. We started studying when they handed out the list, maybe a week before Christmas. And we studied extra this week,” she said.

The contest was the third time McBee participated in the county-wide bee and the first time she has placed in the top three.

Adonay said she thought she would misspell all the words she was asked to spell.

“This is my third time to be in the spelling bee and the first time I’ve won a place,” she said. “I studied with the librarian and my teacher and my parents. We started as soon as we got the list.”

Lea County’s representatives to the state spelling bee will continue to study, hoping to be the student who represents New Mexico at the national spelling bee scheduled for May 29-31 in Washington, D.C.

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