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Can you spell 'dynasty'? Woodington can!

Can you spell “dynasty"? Apparently, Woodington Middle School can.

Three young people, two female and one male, pose holding trophiesAfter winning the annual LCPS Spelling Bee for the past four years with champion spellers who eventually aged out, Woodington found a capable successor in Nikki Bellamy. The seventh grader outlasted the top spellers from the district’s elementary and middle schools on Thursday night to claim a fifth consecutive title for her school.

Nikki correctly spelled “elocution” to cement the win. Malachi Garner, a fifth grader at Northeast Elementary, sparred with Nikki through four rounds of head-to-head spelling to finish as first runner-up. Ashlyn Santos Mayen, a fourth grader at Northwest Elementary, was second runner-up.

The contest went for nine rounds and ran through about 50 called words, from “seclusion” to “skirmish” to “excursion.” By winning their school spelling bee, 14 students qualified for the district spelling bee held at the Lenoir County Agricultural Extension Office before a large crowd of family members and school supporters.

For Nikki, that school-level contest was more nerve-wracking than the district event. “I’d never done a spelling bee before,” she said.

With two wins in two outings, Nikki has a third appearance scheduled as LCPS’s representative to the N.C. Regional Spelling Bee in Charlotte on March 17.

Woodington’s streak of success goes back to 2020 when Rachel Noble won the contest and schoolmate Wesley Vernon finished first runner-up. Wesley then reeled off wins in the next three bees. Both Rachel and Wesley are now students at South Lenoir High School.

In addition to the three tops finishers Thursday night, school spelling champs and district-level qualifiers are Antonio Michelucci of Banks Elementary, Betty Singletary of Contentnea-Savannah K-8 (elementary), Danny Webb of Contentnea-Savannah K-8 (middle), Isaiah Pretty of EB Frink Middle, Easton Harrison of La Grange Elementary, Malachi Brewer of Lenoir County Learning Academy, Kate Harper of Moss Hill Elementary, Addison Herring of Pink Hill Elementary, Taylin Small of Rochelle Middle, Gabriel Charles of Southeast Elementary and Lexie Tanner of Southwood Elementary.

Pronouncer for the spelling bee was Assistant Superintendent Nicholas Harvey II. Judges were EB Frink Middle School principal Dr. Michael Moon, Beginning Teacher Coordinator Lynn Morris and Beginning Teacher Support Coordinator Jennifer Sutton.

Stacy Cauley, director of elementary education and organizer of the event, welcomed the audience.

Photo caption:

Nikki Bellamy, center, of Woodington Middle won the 2024 LCPS Spelling Bee with Malachi Garner of Northeast Elementary, right, the first runner-up and Ashlyn Santos Mayen of Northwest Elementary the second runner-up. Nikki’s flawless performance through nine rounds of spelling gave Woodington its fifth consecutive district title.