Richmond County elementary schools sent their best spellers to compete in a county-wide spelling bee Friday morning.
The young spelling aficionados faced off at Cole Auditorium. Bouncing legs and tight smiles signaled that the contestants’ nerves were taut.
Weeks of practice readied the kids for their moments in the spotlight. Each youngster pushed their nerves aside and mustered up the resolve to speak slowly, clearly and loudly for the crowded room.
Of the eleven contestants, only one could claim the county title and the chance to compete at the regional spelling bee in Charlotte in February.
Nicholas Vincett, eighth grader at Rohanen Middle School, went neck-and-neck with runner-up LaMesha Gould, from East Rockingham Elementary before finally winning the title.
Vincett spelled the championship word “s-t-r-o-g-a-n-o-f-f,” and the room broke into applause.
Vincett said that to prepare he “reviewed the booklet we were given to prepare for the competition.”
“I studied at home and at school during lunch,” he said. “I also crammed a lot last night.”
His parents, Cheryl and Matt, said “it’s been an intense week at our house. Even his brother helped him study, and we also used tape recorders as study aids.”
“I thought I might get second place because there were some words I really struggled with,” said Vincett.
He admits that spelling is only his second favorite subject - right behind math.
“I do love to read though,” he said. “I like action novels and sci-fi. Right now my favorite book is Heaven’s Devils.”
If Vincett takes the prize at regionals, his next stop could be state and national competitions.
Superintendent George Norris congratulated all the finalists in the competition.
Winners representing each school at the competition were: Emily Faw, Washington Street Elementary; Trey Singleton, LJ Bell Elementary; LaMesha Gould, East Rockingham Elementary; Kirsten Bagley, Fairview Heights Elementary; Felix Perez, Mineral Springs Elementary; Kiersten David, Monroe Avenue Elementary; Amelia Bellanger, Ellerbe Middle School; Ian Lewis, Rockingham Middle; CJ McDaniel, Hamlet Middle; Nicholas Vincett, Rohanen Middle; Nicolai Bastida, West Rockingham Elementary.
— Staff Writer Kelli Easterling can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.