Spelling perfection still the goal of modified bee

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Anna Engle, an eighth-grader at Jonathan Alder Junior High, won this year’s 2021 Madison County Spelling Bee. Not only was she the last speller standing in the oral round, she also was the top eighth-grade finisher in the written test.

(Posted March 16, 2021)

This year’s Madison County Spelling Bee looked a little different, but the aim for contestants was the same as it has always been–spell until you are the last one standing.

Anna Engle, an eighth-grader at Jonathan Alder Junior High, was the last one standing on March 2 at Tolles Career & Technical Center in Plain City. She was one of six contestants who made it to the second-to-last round in the oral spelldown. When the other five misspelled their words, Engle had to spell the next word correctly to win. A misspelling would mean the other five would reenter the competition. With the correct spelling of “exodus” (a mass departure), Engle took the title.

Due to COVID-19, the number of students invited to participate in the bee was reduced to three per grade level per participating school. To further reduce the number of people in attendance to allow for social distancing, entrants were limited to two guests each.

In a change from previous years, all entrants participated in both the written and oral portions of the bee. Traditionally, the written test serves as an elimination round.

“We probably had 10 more kids in the oral round than we normally have, but half as many kids overall,” said Karen Crites Grigsby, bee organizer and curriculum director at Madison-Plains Local Schools.

For the oral spelldown, students sat at socially distanced desks on the floor of the Tolles auditorium, rather than sitting on chairs on the stage. They were masked throughout except when they took the stage individually to spell.

While the setup was different this year, all of the participants entered with the same hope–to exit as a top speller.

Plaques went to top-performing students by grade level in both the written and oral portions of the bee. Plaques also went to the overall winner and runners-up in the oral spelldown.

Madison County Spelling Bee written test winners by grade level were: (from left) Olivia Rodenmayer (seventh grade, tie), Anna Engle (eighth grade); Izzie Duffy (fifth grade, tie), Sammy Cameron (sixth grade), Madelyn McCartney (fifth grade, tie) and Andy Wood (seventh grade, tie).

Written test winners by grade:

Fifth grade – (tie) Izzie Duffy (Norwood Elementary, West Jefferson) and Madelyn McCartney (Canaan Middle School);

Sixth grade – Sammy Cameron (Canaan Middle School);

Seventh grade – (tie) Olivia Rodenmayer (Jonathan Alder Junior High) and Andy Wood (Madison-Plains Junior High);

Eighth grade – Anna Engle (Jonathan Alder Junior High).

Oral round winners by grade:

Fifth grade – Izzie Duffy (Norwood Elementary, West Jefferson);

Sixth grade – Cooper Hudson (London Middle School);

Seventh grade – (tie) Cole Berkey (London Middle School) and Sidney Madden (Madison-Plains Junior High);

Eighth grade – Anna Engle (Jonathan Alder Junior High)

Anna Engle (far left), winner of this year’s Madison County Spelling Bee, is joined by the runners-up: Joel Mitchell, Izzie Duffy, Cole Berkey, and Cooper Hudson. Not pictured: runner-up Sidney Madden.

Overall winner and runners-up

Overall champion – Anna Engle (Jonathan Alder Junior High)

Overall runners-up – (five-way tie) Joel Mitchell (Jonathan Alder Junior High);  Cooper Hudson (London Middle School);  Izzie Duffy (Norwood Elementary, West Jefferson); Sidney Madden (Madison-Plains Junior High); Cole Berkey (London Middle School).

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