A gallery of photos of all spellers from the Bee can be seen here.
Freedom Middle School eighth-grader Braden Flournoy correctly spelled “rapacious” and then “affidavit” to claim the title as the county’s top speller at the 2019 Cherokee County School District Spelling Bee Thursday night at Cherokee High School. Last year’s first-place winner, Lydia Lord of Woodstock Middle School, captured second place after a similar (though much shorter) version of last year’s marathon stand-off between the county’s two top spellers. This was the third consecutive year of Spelling Bee finals for both students, as Braden and Lydia placed second and third, respectively, in 2017 as well.
Twenty-nine Cherokee County students put their spelling skills to the test in the Georgia Association of Educators and Cherokee County Association of Educators’ annual competition, which went 36 rounds over 90 minutes before a winner was decided. A tie for third place occurred when both Arya Kalbhor, a fifth-grader at Little River ES, and Huck Wallace, a fifth-grader at Free Home ES, went out in the same round. Spellers tackled almost 100 words in the first eight rounds Thursday night, including tricky terms like “boondoggle,” “cocoon,” and “furtive.” Braden and Lydia battled another 28 rounds before the competition was decided, and when Braden was declared the winner, Lydia immediately offered her congratulations. As both students are in the eighth grade and in their last year of eligibility, a new county champion will be crowned in 2020.
Braden and Lydia will advance to compete in the GAE Region Spelling Bee on February 23 in Cobb County. Last year, Braden was runner-up in the region competition and went on to compete in the State Bee. State winners advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee held in Washington, DC in May.
The county spelling bee is sponsored each year by Cherokee County Association of Educators and the Georgia Association of Educators. Peta Murray is the GAE Spelling Bee Coordinator; John Carter served as caller of the words; judges were Susan Newman, Ana Pettit and Tiffany Robbins. Kathryn Smithyman and Riva Newton were spotters (assisting speller advocates in the event of a question).