LEAVITTSBURG - From "artichoke" to "zenith," 33 students put their spelling skills to the test at the 22nd annual Tribune Chronicle Spelling Bee on Monday night at LaBrae High School.
For the second year in a row, Rebekah Stanhope, 13, of Joseph Badger Middle School, claimed the first place prize with the winning word "shrieval." Shrieval is an adjective meaning "of or relating to a sheriff." Stanhope said she knew how to spell the word as soon as she heard it.
"I was pretty excited," Stanhope said. "I tried to stay calm, though, so I wouldn't make a mistake."
Tribune Chronicle / R. Michael Semple
Tribune Chronicle General Manager F. Len Blose, left, presents the first-place trophy to Rebekah Stanhope, 13, of Joseph Badger Middle School.
By the sixth round, the competition had been narrowed to Stanhope and Abbigayle Grace, 11, from Champion Middle School. Grace misspelled "chauvinism," opening up the opportunity for Stanhope to clinch the top spot with her final word.
Stanhope will head to Washington, D.C., to compete in the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee in May. Last year her mother, Christina Stanhope, said they took the whole family along.
"I'm very excited," said Christina Stanhope. "I'm not sure what our plans are for this year yet."
Stanhope's principal, Robert Moon, said she is the best speller the school has ever had and that during the middle school's spelling bee she "battled it out" to win against a fierce competitor. At the end of the school day Monday though, he said Stanhope was calm.
Stanhope said in preparation she practiced for half an hour to two hours a day by picking interesting words out of the dictionary.
Along with a spot in the national bee, Stanhope won a Merriam-Webster's Third New International Dictionary, a 2013 United States Proof Set from Mr. Jay Sugarman in honor of his father, and a one-year membership to Britannica Online Premium donated by Encyclopaedia Britannica.
Runner-up Abbigayle Grace, 11, is from Champion Middle School. The third-place winner was Olivia Hall, 13, of Lakeview High School, and in fourth place was Sydney Merrigan, 13, of Maplewood Middle School.
Each participant in the bee also is receiving a certificate of participation.
The competition took a little more than an hour to complete - which Tribune Chronicle General Manager F. Len Blose said may have been a record.
"It's amazing how they can blank out the audience and focus in on spelling their word," Blose said.
Blose was a judge for the bee along with Erin McConnell of the Trumbull County Educational Service Center and Mary Lee Sandusky from the English Department of Kent State at Trumbull.
"I just have to compliment all of the spellers. Their poise on stage is amazing," Sandusky said.