CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- In a world where auto-correct and spell-check make it easy to look like a good speller, 27 students from across the Carolinas will converge Monday to prove they are the best.
The 59th annual Charlotte Observer Regional Spelling Bee will begin at 10 a.m. at the Wachovia Playhouse in ImaginOn, with an awards ceremony immediately following the competition.
Spellers ages 8-14 will compete for an all-expenses-paid trip, courtesy of the Observer, to Washington, D.C., for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in late May.
Other prizes for the champion will be: a Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, a certificate for a $100 U.S. savings bond and a one-year subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
The second-place winner will receive a $250 Visa gift card, a Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary and a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card.
Third place will receive a $150 Visa gift card and a $25 Barnes and Noble gift card.
Students will represent such counties as Anson, Catawba, Lincoln and Rutherford in North Carolina and Lancaster, Clover and Chesterfield in South Carolina, among others. Students reached the regional spelling bee by winning their school and countywide bees.
After winning the championship last year, Olivia Jones, a seventh-grader from Charlotte Preparatory School, told NBC Charlotte, the Observer’s news partner, how she approached the competition.
“I always make sure I ask as many questions as I need,” Jones said. “I love reading, so I just like to learn new words and stuff.”
Monday’s Bee features students from 14 counties in the Carolinas. Participating this year are:
• Malik Gaddy, Anson County
• Donovan Nickol, Cabarrus County
• Kirby Thigpen, Cabarrus County
• Brandon Kaminski, Catawba County
• Caroline Collins, Catawba County
• Lindsay Greene, Mecklenburg County
• Christopher Craven, Chester County
• Jeffshan John, Chesterfield County
• Sarah Pope, Chesterfield County
• D’Hannah Morrison, Clover County
• Matthew Lake, Fort Mill School District
• Claire McCrea, Hickory Public Schools
• Carolina Sizemore, Lancaster County
• Eric Gunter, Lincoln County
• Emma Helfgott, Mecklenburg County
• Sam Quarles, Mecklenburg County
• Jonathan Hartman, Mecklenburg County
• Yeisly Ramirez-Tenjhay, Newton-Conover City Schools
• Rushil Shaw, Regional Charter Schools
• Sterling Riddick, Richmond County
• Jason Cairens-Kelz, Rutherford County
• Alana Grooms, Scotland County
• Luke Barringer, Stanly County
• Ashwin Subramaniam, Union County
• Cierra Farinelli, Union County
• Vy Mai, York County
• Keirra Steele, York School District