TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY
By Jeff Noble/Staff writer
Trey Carter was the only student left standing in the Knox County Spelling Bee when he had to spell this final word Thursday morning.
The word was “moccasin.” Like the shoes, and the snakes.
He took a deep breath, thought for a few seconds, and spelled out “M-O-C-C-A-S-I-N.”
There was a quiet hush inside the auditorium at the Knox County Board of Education Annex in Downtown Barbourville. Those listening to the live coverage of the event on WYWY Radio also heard silence.
“That is correct. Congratulations,” said Karl Wallhausser of Union College, who served as the spelling bee’s pronouncer.
Carter smiled, walked away from the podium, and asked, “What do I do next?”
“Relax, and have your picture taken,” was Wallhausser’s reply.
And with those brief moments, the 11-year-old son of Tim and Cindy Carter, of Barbourville, and a sixth grader at G. R. Hampton Elementary School, took top honors at the spelling bee.
A total of 22 students from 11 schools in Knox County came to the competition, and in the end, Carter not only had the big prize, but had some thoughts about his classmates.
“I was wondering what my class’ reaction would be when I told them I won. And I was also thinking, ‘Am I going to Disney World now?’” a relaxed Carter said to the Times-Tribune afterwards.
Jayden Jones was 1st Runner-Up in the contest, while Jesse Keyes was named 2nd Runner-Up.
“It was a great experience. I’ve always liked spelling,” said Jones, the 11-year-old daughter of Jason and Shawna Jones, of Gray, and a sixth grader at Lynn Camp Elementary School.
After getting a hug from her mother, Shawna Jones commented, “She was always a good speller.”
One of the words 2nd Runner-Up Jesse Keyes spelled correctly was, “acoustic” — like in sound acoustics, or an acoustic guitar.
“It was pretty nerve-wracking. When I had to spell ‘acoustic,’ that worried me. But I did. All-in-all, I had a good time,” noted Keyes, the 13-year-old son of Linda Keyes and Travis Keyes, of Barbourville, and a student at Knox County Middle School.
The drama played out shortly after 10 a.m.
Each contestant had their name called out where they drew from one of 22 positions. After they drew their position, each student moved to a seat that had their number on it. A visual projection system called a “magic board” put up a big background behind them, proclaiming to the audience of over 50 people inside the room, and to those watching the event being taped on the Knox County School system’s TV 4 cable channel, that the quiz was happening there.
To their left, three judges — Janet Jones, Sharon McDonald and long-time judge Harrison Davis — were facing them. Also at the table was Wallhausser, who gave each student the word they had to spell correctly.
But before the big show began, there was a practice round. To give the contestant a chance to get comfortable with going up to the podium, spell their word and wait for the judges’ decision. It went off without a hitch.
Then, it was showtime.
The first word to be spelled was “rouge.”
There were other words, like “reign.”
“Could I have the definition, please?” asked the contestant.
“The period when a monarch rules,” said Wallhausser.
The contestant slowly spoke. “Reign. R-E-I-G-N. Reign.”
“Correct,” Wallhausser replied.
In time, some students were out of the competition because of misspelled words. It was down to 17 left.
The words got harder to spell, and some of the students began asking for the definition of the words they were about to spell, like “pewter.”
One asked for an alternate pronunciation of the word they were about to spell.
Later, they also asked to hear the word they would spell used in a sentence, such as “maintenance,” as in “To keep a car or truck running properly, regular maintenance is recommended.”
By the time the contestants got to the word, “hologram” there were 10 of them left.
At 11 a.m., four students were still sitting in their seats. Then three — Keyes, Jones and Carter.
Moments later, Jones and Carter were the two remaining.
And finally, Carter clinches the title, with the correct spelling of “moccasin.”
There were no losers, though. All 22 students received an individual award from the Knox County Farm Bureau for being in the spelling bee.
Along with Carter, Jones and Keyes, individual awards were given to Ethan Blevins and Connor Frederick of Barbourville Independent School, as well as Adrianna Brock and Kaitlyn Gray of Central Elementary School. From Dewitt Elementary, both Corey Simpson and Malloree Walker got an individual award, along with Joseph Hunter Bevins and Morgan Alyssa Gray of Flat Lick Elementary. So did Madison Gibson and Matthew Hensley of Girdler Elementary, plus Mitchell Buchanan and Cara Mills of Lay Elementary, as well as Tawney Nelson of G. R. Hampton Elementary School.
From Lynn Camp Middle School, both Tony Morris and Christian Pippin received individual awards, as did Trey Cima and Kyra Meece of St. Camillus Academy in Corbin. The individual honors were also handed out to Sarah Cox of Lynn Camp Elementary, and Will Hammons of Knox County Middle School. Other sponsors included the Barbourville Junior Woman’s Study Club, which helped to feed the students after the spelling bee.
Originally scheduled for this past Monday, the spelling bee was postponed to Thursday because of schools in the county being out due to Sunday’s snowstorm. Spelling Bee Coordinator Frank Shelton said despite the postponement, the event worked like a charm.
“It was an excellent spelling bee with very active and engaged students participating. We’re proud of all of them, and we can’t wait to have Trey represent us at the Kentucky Derby State Spelling Bee next month,” added Shelton, who is the public relations director for the Knox County Schools.
The Kentucky Derby State Spelling Bee will be Saturday, March 10, in the PNC Club, located at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium in Louisville. The state champion then goes on to the Scripps (formerly Scripps-Howard) National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., which will be held “Bee Week” – the week of May 27-June 1.