Grant Haze had been here before – the two-time spelling champ of Northwest Elementary School making his second appearance in three years at the LCPS Spelling Bee. After outlasting 12 competitors and breezing through 19 rounds without a letter out of place Tuesday night, the fifth grader spelled the word that won it all.
He came into the tournament determined to improve on his second-place finish in 2017, according to his principal. “He was determined,” Heather Walston said.
“I study every day,” Grant said. “My grandma will keep calling words to me until I get them all right.”
The first runner-up trophy went to Sara Odeh, the K-5 champ of Contentnea-Savannah K-8 School. Second runner-up was Islynd Shirey of Southwood Elementary.
Islynd exited in the 16th round, after nearly an hour of spelling, and Sara survived another round before missing on the word “consonants.” Grant spelled that word correctly and then sealed the deal with the winning word.
“I’ve been a super speller at school all year,” Grant said – that is, a student who aces the practice tests and earns a bye for the weekly spelling exam.
Sara, another fifth grader, is similarly a natural – “Spelling is my highest grade in school” – who continues to hone her skills. “For the spelling bee, we practiced every day,” she said. “My mom would call the words and I have to spell them.”
The top three winners took home trophies and all competitors received medals presented by Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey II, who also served as caller for the bee. Spellers in the district contest are all winners of spelling bees held at their schools.
In addition to Grant, Sara and Islynd, contestants were Olivia West of Banks Elementary, Hannah Vann of Contentnea-Savannah K-8’s middle school, Janiah Maye of Frink Middle, Evelyn Escamilla-Aguilar of La Grange Elementary, Adiel Benitez-Garcia of Moss Hill Elementary, Aliyah Jenkins of Northeast Elementary, Carly Hill of Pink Hill Elementary, Michael Horn of Rochelle Middle, Ty’Jhaun Brown of Southeast Elementary and Sydney Whichard of Woodington Middle.