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Column: Chilton Co. Spelling Bee sounds like a blast

By Stephen Dawkins

As the sports editor of The Clanton Advertiser for the past three years, I’ve seen my share of competitions, from football to tennis, that featured talented players and a breathtaking finish.
The atmosphere at the Chilton County Spelling Bee on Monday, Feb. 8 was probably similar to that of local sporting events, with competitors putting forth their best efforts and parents cheering on their children (in fact, I’m disappointed I didn’t cover this event—maybe next year).
But the competition was much different than what I’m used to, with participants judged on their spelling instead of their strength or speed.
The bee had an ending that sounds as exciting as any I’ve written about in the newspaper. The spellers were so good that the bee judges actually ran out of words before determining a winner. They found some words that had been skipped in earlier rounds, though, and were able to finish the event.
In the end, an apparent slip-up cost a Jemison Middle School seventh grader, and Isabella seventh grader Donovan Cleckley took the win.
The bee brings back memories of my own competing in academic events like Scholar’s Bowl and the Math Team. While I felt honored to be included in these select groups, the competitions were never as exciting as draining a 3-pointer in a basketball game.
Maybe there shouldn’t be much of a difference. Brains, after all, are as worthy (if not more so) a cause for celebration than athletic ability.
Maybe next year’s county spelling bee will feature cheering sections complete with face paint and megaphones. Well, maybe not megaphones.
But if the 2011 event promises as much excitement as this year’s, I’ll be there, and I hope you join me.

– Stephen Dawkins is the assistant managing editor of The North Chilton Advertiser.