The Last Speller Spelling


RCMS student Colin Nossek (right) on Friday won the county spelling bee — the first Payson student to win in years.

RCMS student Colin Nossek (right) on Friday won the county spelling bee — the first Payson student to win in years. Photo by Michele Nelson. |

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For the first time in years, a Payson student will represent Gila County at the state Spelling Bee on March 23.

With the spelling of “providence,” Colin Nossek, a Rim Country Middle School eighth-grader, won the countywide spelling bee Friday, Feb. 8.

With the home court advantage of spelling in the Payson High School Auditorium, Nossek out-spelled almost 30 competitors from Globe, Miami, Young, Hayden-Winkelman, San Carlos, Pine, the Payson Christian Community School and Tonto Basin.

Gila County Superintendent Linda O’Dell gave a brief explanation of the rules before the contest started.

“Please don’t forget to state the word, then spell the word. Once you finish spelling, say the word one more time to signal to the judges you have finished,” she said.

Gail Gorry, curriculum specialist for the Gila County superintendent’s office and spelling bee facilitator along with Payson Education Center Principal Peggy Miles announced the words for the students and gave either a definition, used the word in a sentence or gave the country of origin if students asked for a clarification.

As the last three competitors sat on the stage, the energy in the auditorium increased in intensity. Colin smiled nervously at his mother Janet while she sat in the audience as he listened to O’Dell tell them the rules.

“If a competitor misspells a word, it must be spelled correctly by the next contestant or we continue to ask both to spell the word. Then the final competitor must spell the word correctly or they may not win,” she said.

The first student eliminated was Daniella Hawthorn from Miami. She misspelled “mongrel.”

Then Nolan Hawthorn, also from Miami misspelled “semantics,” but so did Colin.

“Both spellers disqualified themselves so we’ll start over,” said Gorry.

Janet sat quietly, but looked nervous.

Payson audience members sat on the edge of their seats.

“The word is ‘providence,’” said Gorry.

Nolan misspelled the word using an “e” instead of an “i” after “v.”

Colin got up and said into the microphone, “p-r-o-v-i-d-e-n-c-e.”

Cheers erupted from the audience.

Gorry said the last time she remembers a Payson student competing at the state level was when 2011 alumnus Taylor Goss won the honor.

Nossek will compete Saturday, March 23 at 1 p.m. at Channel 8/Arizona PBS station, 555 No. Central Ave., 6th floor, ASU Downtown, Phoenix for the state Spelling Bee.

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