Starside spellers shine in school contest
Kimberli Simpson and Nelson Reeves went through dozens of words and 45 minutes of spelling before one finally emerged the winner of the Starside Elementary School spelling bee.
Nelson ended the one-on-one spelling duel Friday and will represent his school Feb. 25 in the Johnson County Spelling Bee. Kimberli will be the alternate.
The Starside Elementary students were almost as nervous as their parents, who watched the entire spelling bee on the edge of their seats.
"We practiced the list the teacher gave us," Nelson's mother, Tami Reeves, said. "We didn't practice much, but we'll have to practice more for the Johnson County bee."
When Nelson was named the winner, his entire fourth-grade class formed a victory tunnel, greeting him on his way back to class.
"He's a sports nut," Nelson's mother said. "He's into basketball, football, everything. He's got a competitive spirit and he's really calm in these situations."
Kimberli, a fifth-grader, didn't let her competitor win easily. The two spellers went through words like "sympathize," "campaign," "hysterical" and "quiche," words also used at the middle-school level.
"She's always been such a good speller," her mother, Traci Simpson, said. "She's been in the Starside spelling bee three years in a row. She's come close, but never this close."
The best spellers from each class were picked to participate in Starside's spelling bee. Second runner-up Adara Handley was in third place and spelled out on the word "moisture."
"It's really hard sometimes, because you can't write down the words," she said. "My mom wrote them down and we practiced them, but saying them out loud isn't as easy."
Spelling bee moderator and gifted student instructor Sarah Brown even gave the two students a break during their marathon bee to help them concentrate.
"We teach you patterns in spelling and phonics," she said. "Now you know why."
After wearing each other out, Nelson won when he was able to correctly spell the word "chimney."
The Johnson County Spelling Bee will take place Feb. 25 at Gardner Edgerton High School. Both middle and elementary school students will compete.
The winner of the county spelling bee can go on to state and national competitions.