WBMS student wins 2017 Roanoke County Spelling Bee

WBMS eighth grader Adithya Iyer won first place in the Roanoke County District Spelling Bee on February 9.
Fifth grader Isaac Fedor represented Bonsack Elementary School in the Roanoke County District Spelling Bee.
Sydney Blewett was the school spelling bee winner for Herman L. Horn Elementary and participated in the county bee.
Callie Dowdy represented Mount Pleasant Elementary School in the Roanoke County Spelling Bee.
Alexis Ware represented W.E. Cundiff Elementary in the Roanoke County Spelling Bee.


Adithya Iyer, an eighth grader from William Byrd Middle School, has won the 2017 Roanoke County District Spelling Bee, which was held at Northside Middle School on February 9. This was his second year in the annual competition. Last year as a seventh grader he was runner-up.

Iyer will now advance to the Regional Spelling Bee at the Valley View Holiday Inn on March 11.

The regional winner advances to the National Spelling Bee held near Washington, D.C.

Twenty-one students in grades five through eight participated in the event this year after winning their individual school competitions.

Other Vinton-area school winners were Isaac Fedor from Bonsack Elementary School (parents James and Vanessa Fedor), Sydney Blewett from Herman L. Horn Elementary (parents Jeremy and Jennifer Blewett), Callie Dowdy from Mount Pleasant Elementary (parents Bert and Stephanie Dowdy) and Alexis Ware from W.E. Cundiff (parent Stephanie Brogan).

Alternates were Montgomery Self from Bonsack, Zachary James from HLH, Curtis Dillon from MPES, Finley Stephens from WEC, and Joseph Sandzimier from WBMS.

Roanoke County School Superintendent Dr. Greg Killough welcomed students to the spelling event by saying he was proud that they were part of the Roanoke County school system and they should be proud of themselves for their great accomplishment.

Dr. Linda Wright, Director of Elementary Instruction, commented on some returning faces who had been spelling bee participants in past years, and expressed her admiration for those who can spell– “an innate ability I do not possess.”

Iyer won in the 16th round after spelling “resonate,” “undulating,” “nuisance,” “pirouetted,” “pterodactyl,” “crustaceans,” “nemesis,” “altruism,” “bureaucracy,” “precocious,” “mayonnaise,” “crescendo,” “entourage,” “eulogy,” “mariachi,” “scampi,” and the championship word, “gulag.”

In the final round, the winner must spell two words correctly in a row to be declared the winner after his opponent misses a spelling. The final word is considered the championship word.

There were words called for other spellers which had the adults in the audience looking around in puzzlement: “laburnums,” “koan,” and “patronymic,” for instance.

Iyer had a strategy for giving himself optimum time to consider the spelling of each word. Competitors 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, and for its origin. He consistently asked for each of those before spelling his words.

Prizes were awarded to the students representing each school– a Fire Tablet.

For winning first place, Iyer received a Samsung Galaxy Tab A with S Pen. His father said that the Samsung prize was a motivating factor in his son studying so hard for the competition.

English Director Joe LeGault was the facilitator for this year’s county bee. Dr. Wright, Director of Secondary Instruction Rhonda Stegall, and Coordinator of Social Studies and Media Services Amy Cummings made up the panel of judges. Harrilyn Mills, English Chair at Cave Spring High School, was the pronouncer.

School spelling bee coordinators are Lisa Cunningham and Jen Hancock from BES, Dorr Booan at HLH, Beth Letz at MPES, Sandra Hunt at WEC, and Kay Woodson at WBMS.

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