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.