Fourth grader wins 30th Annual Spelling Bee

BUCKHANNON — An Upshur County fourth grader won the 30th annual Upshur County Spelling Bee Wednesday.

Bryce Nguyen, a student from Buckhannon Academy Elementary School, correctly spelled ‘caribou’ to win the bee.

It had been a back and forth affair between Bryce and eventual second-place winner Maxwell Blondeau, a seventh grader at Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School. With just the two left out of the 20 spellers who began the bee, a spelldown emerged. Bryce spelled ‘sonata,’ an instrumental musical composition.

Maxwell then spelled ‘retrospective’ and it was back to Bryce who spelled ‘tundra’ correctly.

In the next round, Maxwell spelled ‘pragmatic’ —  concerned with or relating to matters of fact or personal affairs  — while Bryce spelled ‘character.’ When Maxwell missed on ‘yacht,’ Bryce then earned the win with caribou, large deer of northern North America that are related to Old World reindeer.

Bryce said he studied with his mom for roughly three hours a night with the help of some technology.

“My mom used the iPad to pronounce the words and I learned to spell the words,” he said.

Now, that Bryce advances to the regional bee with the other four winners, he said he was “worried” and would keep up that same level of studying to help him prepare.

Rounding out the top five were third-place winner Lila Wright, a fourth grader from Union; fourth-place winner Leah Bennett, a fifth grader from Hodgesville; and fifth-place winner Taylor Spratt, a fifth grader from Union. They will go on to the regional spelling bee to be held Tuesday, March 13 at Fairmont State University in Wallman Hall Theatre.

Sixth-place winner Drahden Rice, a fifth grader from Washington District, will serve as the alternate.

Also participating in the county spelling bee were fourth graders Chester “Garrett” Cutright, from French Creek; Joanne Turner, from Hodgesville; Jeremiah Jeffries, from Rock Cave; Eva Daugherty, from Tennerton; and Emma Hawkins, from Washington District; fifth graders Summer Simmons, from Buckhannon Academy; Xander Rose, from French Creek; Makayla Suder, from Rock Cave; and Michael Arbogast from Tennerton. Buckhannon-Upshur Middle School was also represented by sixth graders Kaylee Cornell and Zoey Casto, seventh grader Gavin Brown and eighth graders Branson Lee and Ashauntae Jefferson.

The bee is sponsored by Upshur County Schools, The Record Delta and Buckhannon Rotary Club, the latter two of which provided judges.

Cynthia Nesselroade, director of child nutrition for Upshur County Schools, coordinated the bee and served as moderator; superintendent Roy Wager retained his pronouncer role and bee assistant was business manager George Carver.

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