Milton Somers eighth grader wins Charles County spell­ing bee

Ha­ley Pay­ton, 14, to com­pete in Scripps na­tional com­pe­ti­tion

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAMIE ANFENSON-COMEAU jan­fen­son-comeau@somd­

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.

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