It started with bric-a-brac and ended with moustache – or mustache, depending on your spelling.
And depending on spelling was the order of the day for students competing for the Jackson County School System Spelling Bee title and the chance to advance to the District 3 contest later this month and the nationals in May.
JD Smith, a West Jackson Middle School seventh-grader, will represent JCSS, after prevailing in the five rounds it took to determine a winner Jan. 30. His next round of competition is set for the Barrow County Schools Professional Development Center in Winder Feb. 23.
The son of Cyndi and Shawn Smith of Hoschton, JD chose the spelling variation first noted in the late 16th century for that fuzzy strip of hair above the lip, but either answer would have been accepted, according to Amy Godfrey, JCSS’s literacy curriculum coordinator.
Godfrey coordinated the local competition with Amy Wright, assistant principal at Gum Springs Elementary School. Lori King, Brooke Wilson, and Donna Wilson were judges for the contest.
JD’s path to the title included successfully spelling famished, photogenic, tangible, leonine, and vice versa.
Autumn Langley, a West Jackson Elementary School fifth-grader, claimed the alternate’s spot after three head-to-head rounds that determined the winner. She is the daughter of Julie and Michael Langley of Braselton.
The students were welcomed by Dr. April Howard, JCSS superintendent. She was joined by Todd Nickelsen, assistant superintendent for teaching and learning, to present ribbons and certificates to the spellers and their alternates and medals to JD and Autumn.
Each student also received a spelling bee cookie — pronounced “really good” by several of the competitors.
Other elementary school-level winners who were part of the contest were Maverick Mitchell, East Jackson; Maya Phillips, Gum Springs; Zoey Kozlowski, Maysville; Anslee Davis, North Jackson; and Sophi Allor, South Jackson. Sam Suarez represented East Jackson Middle School.
The alternates were Breanna Santos, EJES; Amelia Brown, GSES; Jayden Burel, MES; Tate Pinion, NJES; Jack Davis, SJES; Stone Ingvaldsen, WJES; Jesse Stephens, EJMS; and Sadie Dial, WJMS.
The competition was held in the auditorium of Jackson County Comprehensive High School – and JD and his family had plans to depart immediately for Orlando, Fla.
Not exactly the “Disney moment” promoters of that fabled tourist destination had in mind, JD was hurrying to join the WJMS band and chorus on their annual trip to perform at Universal Studios.
His classmates and their chaperones had left by bus earlier that morning for the three-day trip, and JD’s mom was providing his transportation after the contest ended, an effort she said was “totally worth it.”
In its 92nd year, the Scripps National Spelling Bee draws competitors from all 50 states, several territories, and other countries, including the Bahamas, Canada, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, and South Korea.
Bee Week 2019 is set for the last week of May at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.
Organizers estimate that 11 million students will have participated by the time the national champion is named, all of them “working to improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.”
The finals are set to begin at 8:30 p.m. May 30 and will be broadcast live on ESPN.