Roanoke County Public Schools held the annual Middle School Spelling Bee on February 12 at the county administrative offices.
English Coordinator Joe LeGault told the audience that in previous years the county competition had included fifth grade spelling bee winners from all county elementary schools, as well as winners of the five middle school spelling bees, for a total of 21 students.
The process was changed this year so that for the first time, fifth graders competed in a county-wide bee in December with two elementary winners advancing to take part in the 2018 Roanoke County Spelling Bee along with the middle school students.
LeGault said this arrangement was more manageable than hosting such a large number of students for the county bee and also less intimidating for students.
The location was also moved from the auditorium at Northside Middle School to the board room of the administrative office building— a smaller and more relaxed venue.
Spelling bee participants were Summer Lohrmann from William Byrd Middle School, Alicia Carvalho from Cave Spring Middle, Carly Wilkes from Glenvar Middle, Ester Kim from Hidden Valley Middle, Hannah Wheeler from Northside Middle, Evan Ondrus from Back Creek Elementary, and Jolee Hairston from Green Valley Elementary.
The spelling bee on February 12 was double elimination— students missed two words before being eliminated from the competition instead of one as in past years. This reduced the likelihood of getting a random word high on the difficulty index and being out of the competition in one round.
In the final round of competition after the field was narrowed, the prevailing student had to not only spell the final word correctly, but in addition was given a “championship” end-of-bee word to spell.
The panel of judges included Director of Elementary Instruction Dr. Linda Wright, Director of Secondary Instruction Dr. Rhonda Stegall, Supervisor of World Languages Cammie Williams, and Supervisor of Social Studies Krissy Schleicher-Maloney. Harrilyn Mills, who teaches English and AP French at Cave Spring High School, was once again the pronouncer.
In the bee which lasted 27 rounds, words ranged in difficulty from “buffalo” to “oolong,” “umlaut,” “schnauzer,” and the championship word “eureka.”
During the competition, students are allowed to ask the pronouncer and judges for the word to be repeated, to ask for alternative pronunciations, for its definition, for the word to be used in a sentence, or for its origin.
Alicia Carvalho was the winner of the 2018 Roanoke County Spelling Bee and will advance to the regional competition held in March. Jolee Hairston will serve as the alternate. The regional winner advances to the national competition held near Washington, D.C.
Carvalho won a Samsung Galaxy tablet. Other participants who had won their school spelling bees received Kindle Fire 7 tablets.
Summer Lohrmann is an eighth grader at WBMS. Her parents are Mark and Liz Fix.