County spelling bee winner places 4th in state

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

By Karen Hall


A Chapel Hill Elementary School 5th grader was the winner of the County Spelling Bee, and went on to tie for fourth place in the state. He was Drew Piper, the son of Ben Piper and a student in Tara Stacey's class.

Supervisor of Elementary Instruction Tammy Lewis said there were six spellers left going into Round 10 of the state bee, with Drew, at 10 years old, the youngest. Three were eliminated in round 10, leaving Drew tied for fourth in the state.

This is the highest that any Marshall County student has gone in the state bee that anyone can remember.

"He's thrilled," said CHES Assistant Principal Dawn Kirby on Tuesday. "He's a very smart fellow. He's very motivated to apply himself. We hate to lose him."

Drew will be moving up to middle school at Forrest next year, but can continue competing in spelling bees until he is an eighth grader.

In the county spelling bee, held at school headquarters last Thursday, Drew spelled his way calmly through six rounds, with his last, and most difficult, words being liverwurst, muskrat, tycoon, and biopsy.

Brady Calahan, from Delphine Hockett's class at Cornersville Elementary, who placed second, matched Drew word for word until teriyaki stumped him.

Shalaya Wicks and Samuel Vines, both from Westhills, tied for third, having been knocked out in the same round with behoove and pinafore, respectively.

Readers may remember in previous years a big county spelling bee was held in the auditorium at Lewisburg Middle School. At that bee, which sometimes lasted several hours, the winners from each classroom competed for the right to be Marshall County's sole representative at the state spelling bee.

This year, thanks to a change in the Scripps National Spelling Bee rules, the state spelling bee is for the best speller from each of the participating schools. Competing at the state bee Saturday were Drew Piper, CHES; Cooper Wright, CVES; Jesse England, Cornersville Middle School; and Shalaya Wicks, Westhills.

"It's a really strange thing," said Lewis. Even though a county bee was not necessary to determine who would go to state, "Ms. Abernathy thought a county bee was very important," Lewis continued.

"You're all winners," Abernathy said to the spellers before the bee started. "We're very proud of you for being here."

For years, the county spelling bee has been sponsored by the Marshall County Education Association.

"We are very thankful for their support," Lewis said. Other sponsors included First Commerce Bank, which gave $50 for the winner; Robert Newberry and Sonic Drive-In; and McDonald's. All participants received a gift bag. There were trophies for first, second and third places, but since there was a tie for third, Vines was allowed to take home the trophy, while Wicks was promised that an identical trophy would be ordered for her, and presented to her at school.

Lewis enunciated the words, and the judges were Ashley Hobbs, Anna Wright, and Tammy Johnson. The spelling bee coordinators were Hobbs, Johnson, Carla Caldwell, and Jill Worley. LMS and Forrest Middle School did not participate.