Milton Somers eighth grader wins Charles County spelling bee
Haley Payton, 14, to compete in Scripps national competition
Charles County crowned a new spelling bee champi- on Thursday night when Milton M. Somers Middle School eighth grader Haley Payton, 14, correctly spelled “altruism” — self- less or self-sacrificing behavior — in the 12th round, confirming her win by spelling “amphibious” — living both in water and on land — in a champion- ship solo round. “It feels really good,” Peyton said afterwards of the win. “I knew how to spell [amphibious], but I was nervous I might say the wrong letter.”
With the win, Payton receives an all-expenses paid week stay at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at National Harbor — courtesy of the Maryland Independent, Chaney Enterprises, SMECO, Charles County Pub-
Davis Principal Kimberly McClarin commended all of the students for having reached the competition.
“The students present here have shown an elite level of excellence in their academic pursuits,” Mc- Clarin said.
Almost half of the ini- tial 48 competitors were eliminated in the first two rounds of competition, felled by words such as “spoor,” “seersucker” and “belladonna.”
Team play ended after round five when only five competitors remained: Payton, fellow Somers stu- dents sixth grader John Alcorn and seventh grader Emily Winkler, Mat- tawoman Middle School seventh grader Samirah Ansari and Benjamin Stod- dert Middle School eighth grader Evangeline Gilmer.
Team points were tallied, based on competition performance and scores from a written test before the competition. Somers won the team competition with 65 points, followed by John Hanson Middle School with 46 points, and Mattawoman and Davis, tied at 44 points.
Alcorn fell in round seven, followed by Ansari and Gilmer both in round eight.
“Knowing what an excel- lent speller she is, she got first place in our school, I was nervous … we’re both from a really good spelling team,” said Winkler, the runner up.
Payton and Winkler continued to Round 10, when Payton stumbled on “kovsh” — a traditional Russian ladle or drinking vessel — while Winkler correctly spelled “polter- geist,” meaning a ghost or spirit that creates strange noises or moves objects.
Spelling bee rules, howev- er, dictate that when there is only one competitor left, they must correctly spell one more word in a solo round. If they fail, all the competitors eliminated in the previous round return.
Winkler misspelled “yamen” — the office or residence of an official of the Chinese Empire — which brought Payton back into the competition.
“I had never heard it be- fore,” Winkler said. “After- wards, I asked Haley how to spell it, and I missed it by one letter — I added a letter.”
In the next round, Win- kler misspelled “kuruma” (a Japanese cart or vehi- cle), allowing Payton to claim the win.
Payton said the 2006 movie “Akeela and the Bee,” about a young girl who competes in the national spelling bee, inspired her to become a champion speller.
Amend said Payton is an amazing speller.
“She’s a wonderful speller. She’s been on the spelling team for the past two years, and she is just wonderful to work with. She is intelligent, smart, funny, kind; I’ve loved working with her,” Amend said.
Charles County Public Schools Deputy Superintendent Amy Hollstein presents spelling bee winner Haley Payton, 14, an eighth grader from Milton M. Somers Middle School, with her first place trophy.
Milton M. Somers Middle School eighth grader Haley Payton is congratulated by Deputy Superintendent Amy Hollstein after winning the 39th Annual Charles County Spelling Bee.
Spelling bee runner up Emily Winkler congratulates her teammate, winner Haley Payton, after Payton correctly spells the word “amphibious.”
Spelling bee finalists Evangeline Gilmer of Benjamin Stoddert Middle School, Samirah Ansari of Mattawoman Middle School and John Alcorn of Milton M. Somers Middle School hold their trophies.
Milton M. Somers spelling coach Valerie Amend and team members Sarah Treadway, Katee Wilmot, John Alcorn, Emily Winkler and spelling bee winner Haley Payton are presented with their trophies for winning the spelling bee team competition.
Milton M. Somers seventh grader Emily Winkler steps up to the microphone to spell a word. Winkler was the runner-up in the 39th Annual Charles County Spelling Bee, held Thursday in Waldorf.