2018-03-25 / Front Page

Taylor crowned champion of county spelling bee

BY NICHOLAS PUGLIESE
810-452-2601 • npugliese @mihomepaper.com


Dominic Taylor, a seventh-grade student at Chatfield School in Lapeer, went 16 rounds Tuesday evening to win the 2018 Lapeer County Spelling Bee. Dominic Taylor, a seventh-grade student at Chatfield School in Lapeer, went 16 rounds Tuesday evening to win the 2018 Lapeer County Spelling Bee. ATTICA TWP. — Dominic Taylor, a seventh grade student at Chatfield School, will never forget the word “sketchy.”

The word sealed for him the victory in Tuesday evening’s 2018 Lapeer County Spelling Bee, held at the Lapeer County Education and Technology Center. Thanks to “sketchy” and several other correct spellings throughout the 16 rounds, Taylor will head to the 91st Scripps National Spelling Bee at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland May 29–31.

Taylor practiced for the spelling bee using an online Scripps site that provided a deep dive on possible words he might encounter. “I think it helped,” said Taylor, who wore an Albert Einstein T-shirt to the spelling bee. When asked whether he was nervous about Tuesday’s county spelling bee he commented, “No, not really. It wasn’t too bad.”


The five finalists of the 2018 Lapeer County Spelling Bee were: (from left) eighth-grader Gabe Hutchins of North Branch Middle School; Imlay City Middle School eighth-grader Alyssa Elder; winner Dominic Taylor, a seventh-grade student from Chatfield School; and Rolland-Warner sixth-graders Avery Walter and Piper Austin. 
Photos by Nicholas Pugliese The five finalists of the 2018 Lapeer County Spelling Bee were: (from left) eighth-grader Gabe Hutchins of North Branch Middle School; Imlay City Middle School eighth-grader Alyssa Elder; winner Dominic Taylor, a seventh-grade student from Chatfield School; and Rolland-Warner sixth-graders Avery Walter and Piper Austin. Photos by Nicholas Pugliese The event was officiated by North Branch Area Schools Director of Curriculum and Instruction Amber White and a trio of judges — Jeff Hogan, editor of The County Press, Ryan Sieh, sixth-grade language arts teacher at Ruth Fox Elementary School and Carmen Woodruff, a technology instructor at Ruth Fox Elementary School and North Branch Middle School.


Imlay City’s John Ciurla, who won the spelling bee in 2015 and 2016, was on hand to provide competitors a pep talk and advice before they hit the stage Tuesday. Imlay City’s John Ciurla, who won the spelling bee in 2015 and 2016, was on hand to provide competitors a pep talk and advice before they hit the stage Tuesday. Twenty-five fifth- to eighth-grade students representing 14 schools across the county traded letters during the event, and after more than a dozen intense rounds, the five finalists were determined: Taylor; along with Imlay City Middle School eighth-grader Alyssa Elder; Rolland- Warner Middle School sixth-graders Avery Walter and Piper Austin, and eighth-grade student Gabe Hutchins of North Branch Middle School.

According to official pronouncer for the event Amber White, just getting to the county level of the competition is a significant achievement, as to earn their berth at Tuesday evening’s spell-off, the students bested hundreds of their peers at their home schools. “This is like the Super Bowl for us,” she said. Telling the kids that they’ll “probably remember the words that (they) miss,” but they should also always remember the words that got them to that point. “These kids are so well-studied,” she said, before joking that the competition could last “a couple days.”

The five finalists tackled unusual words and uncommon spellings, including a close call by Hutchins on the word “pistachio,” until the five finalists became two — Taylor and Elder. Three more head-to-head rounds were needed to determine the winner, when Taylor was able to spell two consecutive words correctly, including the final word, “sketchy.”

Taking second place Tuesday evening was Elder, followed by Austin in third, Hutchins in fourth and Walter in fifth place. Each of the five finalists received a medallion commemorating their success as well as a Barnes and Noble gift card.

Taylor will advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee where he will compete against other fifth-grade through eighth-grade students from across the country for almost $45,000 in cash and prizes, including an engraved trophy and a complete reference library from Merriam-Webster.

The 2017 Lapeer County Spelling Bee was sponsored by The County Press/ Lapeer Area View, Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, Merriam- Webster and the Lapeer County Intermediate School District.

2018 County Spelling Bee candidates who won their local school bees

(Not all participated Tuesday owing to other school commitments)

• Johnny Altomare, North Branch Middle School, 8th Grade
• Piper Austin, Rolland-Warner Middle School, 6th
• Dakota Back, Rolland-Warner Middle School, 7th
• Merci Bamford, North Branch Middle School, 8th
• Brendan Barkowska, Ruth Fox Elementary School, 6th
• Nathan Baughman, Dryden Elementary School, 6th
• Kaitlyn Buchanan, Rolland-Warner Middle School, 7th
• Joella Caringi, Ruth Fox Elementary School, 5th
• Ryan Conn, Almont Middle School, 6th
• Alyssa Elder, Imlay City Middle School, 8th
• Louie Frontero, Rolland-Warner Middle School, 7th
• Joseph Gass, Imlay City Middle School, 6th
• Alexandria Goff, Mayfield Elementary School, 5th
• Mandy Granz, Imlay City Middle School, 7th
• Gabe Hutchins, North Branch Middle School, 8th
• Devin Jones, Almont Middle School, 8th
• Elizabeth Miller, Almont Middle School, 5th
• Charlotte O’Brien, Borland Elementary School, 5th
• AJ Ondoy, Rolland-Warner Middle School, 6th
• Carter Poniatowski, Turrill Elementary School, 5th
• Caleb Pung, Lynch Elementary School, 5th
• Emma Raue, Dryden Junior High School, 7th
• Alexander Simpson, Ruth Fox Elementary School, 6th
• Adair Sokolowski, Schickler Elementary School, 5th
• Ashley Sowa, Almont Middle School, 7th
• Dominic Taylor, Chatfield School, 7th
• Avery Walter, Rolland-Warner Middle School, 6th
• Aubrey Weber, Emma Murphy Elementary School, 5th
• Izzy Welch, Chatfield School, 5th

Runner-up county spellers

• Maevyn Becker, Emma Murphy Elementary School, 5th
• Addison Cameron, Borland Elementary School, 5th
• Ava Castalluzzo, Lynch Elementary School, 5th
• Chloe Dion, Rolland-Warner Middle School, 7th
• Avireana Gaffka, Turrill Elementary School, 5th
• Abigail Geml, Almont Middle School, 5th
• Bela Kamicka, Mayfield Elementary School, 5th
• William Keesler, Imlay City Middle School, 7th
• Mason Knight, North Branch Middle School, 7th
• Grace Koenig, Almont Middle School, 7th
• Owen Lasher, Dryden Elementary School, 6th
• Jaden Pryde, Schickler Elementary School, 5th
• Zachary Schulte, Chatfield School, 8th
• Abby Stapleton, Imlay City Middle School, 6th
• Kaia Taylor, Chatfield School, 5th
• Adeline Tresnak, Dryden Junior High School, 7th
• Emma Urbaniak, Imlay City Middle School, 8th

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