Jackson Dunn is spelling bee champ

DeLand-Weldon sixth grader Jackson Dunn is known for always having a smile on his face, but his ever-present grin got a little wider when he correctly spelled “grotesque” to win the Piatt County Spelling Bee on Feb. 15 at Atwood-Hammond Elementary School.

Dunn and Hannah Copeland, a fifth grade student at Cerro Gordo Elementary, now advance to the regional spelling competition at Decatur Eisenhower High School on March 17.

It was Dunn’s third straight trip to the county spelling bee, and he used last year’s fourth place finish as motivation to move up the rankings in 2018.

“It made me want it,” he said, and also made him practice night and day in the weeks leading up to the competition. “I studied for a long time. I would write them down and practice them.”

Twenty-five spellers from schools in Atwood-Hammond, Bement, Cerro Gordo, DeLand-Weldon and Monticello competed, but after one round it was already down to 12. That has been the case in recent bees because the difficulty of words in initial rounds was increased after organizers in Macon County ran out of words a few years ago.

After three rounds it was down to Dunn and Copeland, who jockeyed back and forth for four additional rounds before Dunn won by spelling “lassitude” and “grotesque.” Copeland went out on “bilious,” an adjective meaning “of or relating to a yellow or greenish fluid that is secreted by the liver and that aids especially in the emulsification and absorption of fats: of or relating to bile.”

The runner up was excited to advance, admitting she “got nervous in the rounds near the end.”

Her principal, Jodi Neaveill, called Copeland “an avid reader and a good writer, so the spelling followed.”

After his win, Dunn – clutching his trophy – immediately ran to hug has parents and grandparents who were sitting in the stands.

And of course, he was smiling.

“I smile. It’s just my thing,” he said.

Spelling Bee participants by school were:

Atwood-Hammond Elementary School – Anna Rawlins, Savannah Fagan, Ashlynn Gingerich, Tanner Beckmier, Melyne Sherwood

Bement Grade School – Ella Corum, Gabby Block

Bement Middle School – Quinn Flavin, Kade Alumbaugh, Cade Flavin

Cerro Gordo Elementary School – Samantha Sterling, Hannah Copeland, Daemien Taylor

Cerro Gordo Junior High School – Kiley Brunner, Sarina Larrick

DeLand-Weldon Schools – Dakota Thrasher, Wyatt Friend, Jackson Dunn, Cydney Shofner, Maycie Ellis

Monticello/Washington Elementary – Emerson Snook, Taylor Simnick

Monticello Middle School – Jonathan Repta, Nate Leonard, Emily Steffes

Categories (3):News, Education, People


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