Six Rim Country Middle School students took top honors Friday at the Payson Unified School District Bee at the high school auditorium. A seventh student from Shelby School will be the alternate for the district.
They were among 58 students from Frontier, Julia Randall, and Payson Elementary Schools, Shelby School near Kohl's Ranch, and the middle school.
Judges were Shannon Bielke, Margaret Jesus and Ann Staveness. Barbara Potvin was the pronouncer and Shea Hatch recorded the spelling bee and registered the participants.
Kathy Tyler coordinated the event for the second year, working with the schools and other teachers in the selection process. Tyler said each school has its own process for selection, but most have spelling bees in their classrooms starting at the end of December and the beginning of January.
There were 12 representatives each from Frontier, JRE and RCMS, 14 from PES, and eight from Shelby.
"All of the kids did an excellent job," Tyler said Friday afternoon. "We used almost 200 words to determine the winner."
By the end of seven rounds, three students were left on stage: Danielle Goebel, Stephanie Hilliard and Mindy Lloyd. They went into the ninth round and two of the remaining students misspelled their words. One was left, Stephanie Hilliard, a seventh grade student in Kathy Tyler's class at RCMS, who spelled "concession" correctly.
As the tension eased, Tyler told the students that the final six would go on to the county spelling bee, and one alternate would be chosen in case of an absence.
The five other students who will represent the district are: Mindy Lloyd, eight grade; Danielle Goebel, seventh grade; Max Lane, seventh grade; Skylar DeWeese, seventh grade; and, Sonny Galvin, eighth grade.
Three students faced off for the sixth place and alternate's position, Lisa Bartolli, a PES student, Skylar DeWeese and Alisia Lewinson, an eight grade Shelby School student. The sixth place went to Skylar DeWeese. Alisia Lewinson won the spot as alternate.
"We're looking forward to going to Globe and hopefully, we'll do well," Tyler said.
Armida Bittner, Gila County School Superintendent, said she's really excited about the county's upcoming spelling bee Feb. 25.
"It's always neat," Bittner said. "We're asking people to come and be a part of it, come and see this, see what the kids are doing. They're doing their very best and we want to give them all the support we can."
Bittner said more than 30 elementary school students will compete for the honor of being the County Spelling Bee Winner for 2000 and the chance to go on to the State Championship Spelling Bee in Phoenix April 8.
The winner of the state competition goes on to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. May 28 through June 3.
"We're looking at over 30 kids this year," Bittner said, "and we're contacting homeschooled students."
She said Pine-Strawberry has been the only school district of the eight districts in the county to send home-schooled students to the competition.
The districts include: Payson, Pine-Strawberry, Young, Tonto Basin, Miami, Globe, Winkleman and San Carlos.
"If everyone sends a representative, we'll have 35 to 36 kids," Bittner said. "We're trying to get private, parochial and charter schools involved."
At the county bee, the participants go through two practice rounds to get used to being on stage and working with a microphone. Each participant gets up, spells the word and sits down, Bittner said.
"If they spell incorrectly, a bell rings. We let them know -- you hear this, you know you spelled your word incorrectly."
When the participants finish the practice session, Bittner goes through all the rules. There are two pronouncers and three judges who have total control of the proceedings. And there is an appeal process that has to be completed before the next round is started.
"We ask the speller to pronounce and spell the word," she said. "We try not to cause the speller a problem."
The pronouncers can be called upon to pronounce the word, give a definition of the word and use it in a sentence.
When the competition has narrowed to two spellers, the rules change, Bittner said.
"Then they go at it, back and forth. If one speller misses a word, the other has to spell that word and his or her own word.
"It takes about two hours," she said. "Quite a bit goes into this prior to getting it together."
The Gila County Spelling Bee will be conducted Friday, Feb. 25 at the Globe I.D.S. Stake Center at the Show Low Junction, on Highway 77. The Bee begins at 1 p.m. and lasts approximately two hours.
Students from public, private, charter schools and home schools are invited to participate.
For information, contact Armida Bittner's Office at 520-425-3231, ext. 330 or 334.