Senior Staff Writer
A Lewisburg Middle School student won the Marshall County Education Association District Spelling Bee on Tuesday at Marshall County High School.
The winner, participating with the lucky No. 7 sign displayed on his chest, was Bryan Westmoreland, son of Lewisburg residents Adam Westmoreland and Dieardra Cozart.
"This is my fourth county competition," young Westmoreland said as friends and family gathered around him. "This is my last year for spelling competition."
Having participated before, Westmoreland attributed his win to perseverance and practice.
"As soon as I got home, I practiced every day," he explained.
The 14-year-old eighth grader participated in MCEA spelling bees since he was in third grade. Now, he may compete March 2 in the regional spelling bee held at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro.
Westmoreland is a good student in English class, but he says, "I prefer social studies."
His parents kidded him about being competitive and liking football.
"I am pretty competitive," said Westmoreland, who would "kind of like to be a lawyer" when he grows up. That drew a good-natured kidding from his father: "He is a good liar."
His mother countered: "You can tell when he lies."
His success Tuesday might have been predictable as he stepped confidently from the microphone after completing each word he spelled. At least once, he began walking from the microphone before he was told he'd correctly spelled the word.
It wasn't so with other contestants.
One student looked down at her two hands that moved as if she was writing the word congratulations on a tablet so she could spell it correctly. Another student's challenge was to spell "obituary," but it did not spell the death of that child's participation in that round. Some youngsters squirmed. Others asked for a second chance. Results varied, but there was no starting a third time.
Chapel Hill Elementary School fifth grader Logan Price, son of Chrystal Price and Gary Templeton, placed second. Oak Grove Elementary School fourth grader J.W. Beasley, son of Kristen and Tres Beasley, placed third. The two shook hands after a spell-off.
Competitors eliminated in the same round are seen as tied for the same finishing place, according to spelling bee rules. There were spell-offs at two spelling bees leading to the competition Tuesday.
There were 14 competitors Tuesday. There were 30 last year, when total participants were limited to one from every 25 in the schools sending spellers to compete. National spelling bee organizers changed the rules.
Former Marshall County Schools Director Nancy Aldridge was the enunciator for the spelling bee. Oak Grove Elementary School Instructional Facilitator Elaine Cagle, District Math Coach Becky Hill and Chapel Hill Elementary School Teacher Tara Stacey were the judges. Marshall County Schools K-6 Instruction Coordinator Tammy Lewis coordinated the program Tuesday.