The 12-year-old Moody Junior High School student had a “rendezvous” with destiny Wednesday morning.
“R-E-N-D-E-Z-V-O-U-S,” Charley Colvin spelled aloud, then said the word, “Rendezvous.”
The audience clapped, acknowledging the student had correctly spelled the championship word to capture the 2013 St. Clair County Spelling Bee.
“I knew it,” Colvin said after the spelling contest, which was hosted by the Pell City School System. “I was nervous, but I knew it (the word).”
Twenty-one students, representing schools scattered across the county, lined up Wednesday morning on the Performing Arts stage in the Pell City Center, spelling words that would likely stump most adults.
It took four rounds to whittle down the group of students to five, and four more rounds before the contest came down to four contestants, two who are brothers.
“That’s the best five I’ve ever had,” said Ronnie McFarling, the pronouncer for the spelling bee. “Y’all are making those words sound easy.”
McFarling has pronounced words for contestants in eight county spelling bees and 40 spelling contests in local schools.
“The kids were very well prepared,” said Michael Barber, assistant superintendent of Pell City schools. “To have 14 rounds and two championship rounds says a lot.”
An average of four students left each round, and by the fifth round there were only five students remaining in the contest, brothers Duran Junior High School North and South students Jones and Ben Willingham; Mary Lee Jordan, a fifth-grader at Odenville Intermediate School; the winner, Colvin; and the eventual runner-up, Ashville Middle School student Rachel Duncan.
It took five rounds to eliminate one of the top-five finishers, only after McFarling dug way back in the spelling book for more difficult words to spell.
“If I hadn’t gone to the harder section, it would have lasted much longer,” McFarling said.
Jordan left the contest in the ninth round, and the Willingham brothers exited the stage during the 10th round, leaving only Colvin and Duncan in the spell-out.
It looked as though Colvin was going to bag the contest early against Duncan, but she missed her chance when she misspelled “peccadillo,” which ironically means a “small fault.”
As soon as Colvin misspelled the word that would have given her the championship, she knew it.
“I thought, ‘Oh no, I blew it,’” she said.
The youngster looked confident as she continued to make her trip to the microphone to spell word after word.
“I was nervous, but I tried to keep it under control,” Colvin said.
This was Colvin’s fifth time to qualify for the St. Clair County Spelling Bee, and she will make her third trip to the state finals as the St. Clair County Spelling Bee Champion.
The seventh-grade student works on her spelling words almost every night.
She said she can qualify for one more county spelling bee, but her goal is to make it to the national contest this year.
“If you set a goal, work hard, you’ll get it,” the determined St. Clair County Spelling Bee Champ said.
Other students to participate in this year’s county spelling bee were Ashville Elementary student Jonah Carden, Coosa Valley Elementary student Ashlinn Manning, Eden Elementary student Autumn Spencer, Williams Intermediate student Alex Thomas, Iola Roberts Elementary student Austin Grill, Margaret Elementary student Rhiannon Perry, Moody Elementary student Khushi Modi, Moody Middle School student Kate Williams, Odenville Elementary student Cody Johnson, Odenville Middle School student Dawson Bagby, Ragland Elementary student Chris Ledbetter, Springville Elementary student McKenzie Brown, Springville Middle School student Cotton Ryan, Steele Junior High student Christina Segura, Victory Christian student Hayden Burch and Walter M. Kennedy Elementary student Evan Watson.
All spelling bee contestants were awarded medallions Wednesday for qualifying for the 2013 St. Clair County Spelling Bee.
“Each student won at their school, so they are already winners,” Barber said. “We’re proud of all these kids.”