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S-U-C-C-E-S-S for two-time champ


By Melissa Robinson
Contributing Editor   

  Nearly 40 students from 28 elementary schools and all eleven middle schools converged on the Henry County Performing Arts Center in McDonough on Friday for the annual Henry County system-wide spelling bee, to compete for the coveted title of Henry County’s Best Speller.

Three middle school students were the finalists in Henry County Schools annual Spelling Bee. Pictured l to r: are Andrea Augustine - second place, Monica Johnson - first place and Kathleen Mabutin - third place.                           Special photo

  For the second year in a row, the title of best speller went to Monica Johnson, an eighth grade student at Dutchtown Middle School. She won the $100 cash prize, a trophy, the title and the opportunity to represent Henry County in the next level of competition.

  Throughout the morning-long event, Johnson put on a calm, cool and collected front and said she doesn’t normally get nervous until the very end.

  “I don’t really get nervous until the final few words,” said Johnson. “When it’s down to just a few.”

  She said her favorite subjects in school are Language Arts and Social Studies.

  “Pretty much everything but math,” she said.

  Andrea Augustine from Eagles Landing Middle School was first runner-up and won $50 and Kathleen Mabutin from Locust Grove Middle School was second runner-up and won a cash prize of $25. All three students will have the opportunity to compete in the next round.

  Gabrielle Waltower, a fifth grade student from Fairview Elementary School was the last elementary school student to be eliminated, holding her own and going several rounds with the middle school contestants until erring on the word spendthrift. Her proud parents in the audience comforted her after she exited the stage at the PAC.

  According to J.D. Hardin, Communications Specialist for the Henry County School District, students in fourth through eighth grade won competitions at their respective schools in order to represent them at the countywide competition.

  One by one, contestants dropped off like flower petals in a winter breeze, after being presented with commonly misspelled words like piccolo, nebbish, cauliflower and pumpernickel, until the competition pared down to the final two. Spelling mortuary, amendment, and spectrometer correctly capped off thirteen rounds of competition, and it was the word “amendment” that bested Augustine and catapulted Johnson to victory. The winner and two runners-up will advance to the District Five competition to be held on February 23 at Mundy’s Mill Middle School in Jonesboro. The winners of that competition will go on to the state competition and then the national competition.

  According to Hardin, many students worked diligently preparing for the competition.

  “While students prepare for the competition at varying lengths, their methods of studying can range from using new spelling practice resources or just sticking with Webster’s Dictionary,” he said.

  The Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) in conjunction with the Scripps National Spelling Bee competition sponsored this spelling bee. Monetary awards for the three top spellers were provided by the Henry County Association of Educators.



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