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Spelling whiz takes prize for fourth year

Spell 'fourpeat'

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By correctly spelling “insidious” and “flamboyant,” Rachael Cundey earned her fourth consecutive win at the 2012 local qualifying spelling bee for the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.

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As runner-up Larisa Crowder sits in the background, Rachael spells her final word correctly, clinching her fourth consecutive victory in the bee.  MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
MICHAEL HOLAHAN/STAFF
As runner-up Larisa Crowder sits in the background, Rachael spells her final word correctly, clinching her fourth consecutive victory in the bee.

Rachael, a seventh-grader at Lakeside Middle School, correctly spelled 15 words to win. Second place was Larisa Crowder, a home school student from Aiken, who stumbled over the Greek-origin word “periphery.”

Alyssa Carrad, a 12-year-old from Westminster Schools of Augusta, placed third in Saturday's bee.

Fifteen elementary and middle school students competed in the bee sponsored by The Augusta Chronicle and held Saturday morning in the Morris Auditorium. The bee lasted about 50 minutes. After all spellers advanced past the first round, nine spellers were eliminated in the next four rounds. Five girls remained and did not misspell a word until round nine.

Rachael quickly spelled her words without hesitations. Every word was on a vocabulary list she studied daily. Participating in spelling bees becomes easier each time, she said.

“I’m always a little nervous but I was more comfortable this time than I have been before. I think I’m just used to it now,” she said.

To prepare, she studied Latin and Greek roots and spelling patterns. Rachael studies for three to four hours on a weekend day in addition to one hour after school days.

Her mother, Tammy Cundey, said Saturday’s bee was a great competition with six spellers returning from last year’s local qualifying bee.

“We knew they had the experience from last year so we knew things might be tougher,” she said.

Rachael said she might take one day off from studying, but then it’s back to the books to prepare for the national spelling bee. As champion of Saturday’s bee, Rachael won an all-expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C. for the competition held May 27 to June 1.

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Longtime CSRA resident
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Longtime CSRA resident 03/03/12 - 04:51 pm
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Congratulations, Rachel !!

Congratulations, Rachel !!

Craig Spinks
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Craig Spinks 03/03/12 - 07:01 pm
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CONGRATULATIONS, Miss Cundey.

CONGRATULATIONS, Miss Cundey.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/03/12 - 07:47 pm
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Wasn't she homeschooled until

Wasn't she homeschooled until recently?

rsmith
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rsmith 03/04/12 - 12:51 am
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Congrats to Miss Cundey.

Congrats to Miss Cundey. However, she should be thankful she doesn't live elsewhere in GA. If you live outside the Augusta area, you have to win the whole *state* of GA in order to make it to the national bee. GA has nearly 10 million people, and the Augusta area only about 500,000. So, if you live anywhere else in GA, qualifying for the national bee is roughly 20 times harder than it is in the Augusta area. If Miss Cundey did live elsewhere in GA, she might have difficulty even making it to the state bee (20 people qualify), much less placing well there or winning it.

Unfortunately, the spelling bee is so much about luck. They should give all the spellers the same test of 100 words--that way you'd probably get the best speller at least 95% of the time.

Cynical old woman
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Cynical old woman 03/04/12 - 08:44 am
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Nice to read something good

Nice to read something good about LMS!

Riverman1
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Riverman1 03/04/12 - 09:13 am
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My bad, she was not

My bad, she was not previously homeschooled. She attended South Columbia and now Lakeside Middle. Congrats to her and her schools.

Martinez
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Martinez 03/04/12 - 09:37 am
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Congrats to the whole Cundey

Congrats to the whole Cundey family. These are great people and Rachael is a very sweet dedicated young lady who works hard to continue learning and competing. Not liking how the region competition is handled has nothing to do with what this young lady has accomplished. She has won 4 years in a row and is moving on to DC again. Best of luck Rachael!

brendadale
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brendadale 03/04/12 - 01:38 pm
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You make Columbia County so

You make Columbia County so proud. Good Luck in Washington, D.C.
Remember to have fun too!

Dixieman
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Dixieman 03/05/12 - 10:20 am
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rsmith - You need to attend a

rsmith - You need to attend a spelling bee and see how much character, courage, poise and composure have to do with winning. It is a real challenge for 4th-8th graders to get up and spell in public. This is an important component and value of the bee. All students study vocabulary words and take written tests at school; the bee is a different activity altogether. Also your suggestion is like saying the Olympic swimming and track events should have individual competitors do the event separately and then just announce the results without having them compete against each other at the same time and in the same place.
Also, half the competitors in this bee sponsored by the Chronicle are from the nearby counties in the CSRA in South Carolina so your statistics about Georgia don't really hold up.
Full disclosure: My child was one of the competitors this year.
Congratulations to Miss Cundey and good luck in Washington!

rsmith
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rsmith 03/06/12 - 12:27 am
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"rsmith - You need to attend

"rsmith - You need to attend a spelling bee and see how much character, courage, poise and composure have to do with winning."

Dixieman, why do you assume that I have not?

"It is a real challenge for 4th-8th graders to get up and spell in public. This is an important component and value of the bee. All students study vocabulary words and take written tests at school; the bee is a different activity altogether."

It is an unfair competition that uses kids for entertainment value. I'm not saying it has absolutely no usefulness, but the negatives of the bee far outweigh its positives IMO. The format should be such that you get the best speller at least 95% of the time.

rsmith
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rsmith 03/06/12 - 12:27 am
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"Also your suggestion is like

"Also your suggestion is like saying the Olympic swimming and track events should have individual competitors do the event separately and then just announce the results without having them compete against each other at the same time and in the same place."

Huh? All the kids would take the test at the same time and in the same place. In the Olympics, everybody competes in the *same* venue and thus has the same level of difficulty. In the spelling bee, since everyone spells different words, it's like having Olympic athletes compete in various venues with different levels of difficulty. That would hardly be fair.

"Also, half the competitors in this bee sponsored by the Chronicle are from the nearby counties in the CSRA in South Carolina so your statistics about Georgia don't really hold up."

My main point does hold up, because the population of the counties making up the bee is roughly 500,000, is it not? Even if it were twice that, that would still make the GA bee roughly 10 times harder. That's the reason the majority of the kids from these smaller qualifying bees rarely make it to the semifinals at the National Spelling Bee.

"Full disclosure: My child was one of the competitors this year."

That's nice to hear. I hope or she did well. I have no problem with a spelling competition, but with its antiquated format, the spelling bee is hugely about luck, and that does a great disservice to the hard-working children. I think it's tantamount to child abuse really.

rsmith
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rsmith 03/06/12 - 12:30 am
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I had to split my message in

I had to split my message in several parts, because it wouldn't show up otherwise. :) Anyway, last but not least, congrats to Miss Cundey. My displeasure with the flaws of the spelling bee is in no way directed at her. No doubt she's worked extremely hard, and I wish her continued success.

rsmith
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rsmith 03/06/12 - 12:32 am
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Oops, I meant to say

Oops, I meant to say concerning your child, Dixieman, "I hope he or she did well." :)

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