Brown repeats as county spelling champ
Ken McLemore, Hope Public Schools

HOPE – Beryl Henry Elementary School sixth grade student Mika Brown is two for two at the Hempstead County Spelling Bee.

Brown won the competition in a quick championship round Tuesday at the Yerger Middle School Library, after all five finalists missed their word in the opening round of the championship set.

BHE fourth grade champion Jose Martinez was eliminated first in the second championship round; then, Garrett Memorial Christian School seventh grader Grayson Chambless was stumped next.

That left the three girls who made their way to the championship round, including Brown, Blevins fifth grader Alyssa Bonner, and Garrett eighth grader Anna Kate Childress. Then, Bonner was eliminated in the first head-to-head for the three girls, leaving Brown and Childress to slug it out, as contest pronouncer Mike Malek kept up the pace of spelling challenges.

Within minutes, however, Brown had her victory assured to repeat as Hempstead County Spelling Bee Champion. Childress captured second place and Bonner was third. Chambless placed fourth overall and Martinez was fifth countywide.

Brown will advance to the statewide competition in Little Rock on March 12 to compete against county champions from each of Arkansas’ 75 counties. The state competition is sponsored, again, by The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette in conjunction with the national Scripps National Spelling Bee, sponsored by the E. W. Scripps Company. The Little Rock newspaper has sponsored the state contest since 1992.

The contest is limited to students under age 16 who have not advanced beyond the eighth grade.

Contest coordinator Janice Russell announced her retirement from the competition after 22 years, and she was recognized by YMS Librarian Margaret Moss for her service.

Judges for the contest included Mary Roy Moses, Alice Straughter, and Jimmy Courtney.

Contestants from BHE included Jose Martinez and Maurice Hickman, fourth grade; Allen Thomason and Saniyah Walker, fifth grade; and Jessica Chook and Mika Brown, sixth grade. Yerger contestants included John Jones and Heath Lawson, seventh grade, and Jerry Noble and Kathy Rogel, eighth grade.

Blevins participants included Marca’sja Glenn and Baleigh Laughard, fourth grade; Alyssa Bonner and Reese Roders, fifth grade; Maci Thaxton and Mason Brent, sixth grade; Adrian Moreno and Allison Bonner, seventh grade; and Emily Moreno, eighth grade.

Garrett participants included Bailey Hayes and Mikayla Fields, fourth grades; Timothy Miller and Sophy Tyson, fifth grade; Aaron Key and Max Garcia, sixth grade; and, Marie Akard and Grayson Chambless, seventh grade; and, Grace Cearley and Anna Kate Childress, eighth grade.

Spring Hill participants included Jarett Cox and Cooper Plyler, fourth grade; Tucker Runion and Will Applegate, fifth grade; Tyler Warren and Riley Elledge, sixth grade; Paige Runion and Darcie Chambless, seventh grade; and, Nick Yates and Slade Cox, eighth grade.