It took 68 rounds and 268 correctly spelled words to determine first and second place winners in the 2019 DeSoto County Spelling Bee, a countywide event that included Northpoint Christian, Sacred Heart and DeSoto County Schools.
The winner was Iris Xue (pronounced “Shra”), a seventh-grader from DeSoto Central Middle School. The runner-up was Elisia Campbell, an eighth-grader from Lewisburg Middle School.
Both received trophies and Iris will compete in the Mississippi Association of Educators’ statewide Spelling Bee in Jackson in March.
In the event Iris is unable to attend the competition, Elisia is eligible. The winner at the state level will be eligible to compete at the National Spelling Bee, a televised event.
Van Alexander, associate superintendent at DeSoto County Schools, welcomed participants and guests and awarded the trophies at the end of the 3.5 hour event.
“All students studied very hard and each one of them is a winner,” Alexander said.
A total of 33 students began the competition before a packed room of family and friends at DeSoto County Schools’ Central Services boardroom in Hernando. All students participating won school competitions to be a part of the County Spelling Bee. Each school, representing grades 4-8, had two students eligible per grade. They received a syllabus of the words to study. Dr. Jerry Floate, Principal of Hernando Middle School, was the “pronouncer” for the event.
Judges for the Spelling Bee were Center Hill Elementary School Principal Leslie Heyman, Walls Elementary Principal Erica Armstrong, and Horn Lake Intermediate Principal Carrie Speck. Jo Cox, Director of Continuing Education at DCS, was the Spelling Bee Coordinator.
The first round took out 10 participants. Round two eliminated five, and round three took out four, leaving 14 students who continued to correctly spell words such as “cooperage,” “guava,” “hibiscus,” “gangrene,” and “offal.” It was a close match in the final rounds between the two middle school students. Iris correctly spelled “minaret” to win.
“We had an exceptional group of spellers this year and usually a winner is determined after about 15 rounds,” said Cox. “Words seemed to get more difficult as we moved through the syllabus. However, these students put much time and effort into preparing. To my knowledge, this was the longest competition we have had. Our winner spelled 68 words correctly. It is my hope that we see her on the national stage.”