Winning Smile

Edgar Murray Elementary School third-grader Current Smith smiles after she correctly spelled “vaporize” on Tuesday to become the St. Clair R-XIII School District Spelling Bee champion. Smith, the youngest competitor in the bee, bettered 10 other students to win the title. Other photos from the spelling bee can be found in an online gallery at

In the end on this day, the youngest was the best.

Third-grader Current Smith outperformed 10 older students on Tuesday afternoon to take top honors in the St. Clair R-XIII School District Spelling Bee. The 10-year-old who attends Edgar Murray Elementary fared better than students as old as five grades her senior en route to the crown.

Third grade is the youngest level pupils can compete in the local competition. Tuesday’s event featured Current, three fourth-graders, a fifth-grader, two sixth-graders, two seventh-graders and two eighth-graders who advanced through their individual school competitions to compete in the district contest.

And in the process of winning the bee, Current bettered a fourth-place finish earlier this month in the Edgar Murray spelling event. She was an individual classroom champion, however.

“I studied really hard,” Smith softly said after the competition in reference to the time between the two spelling bees. “I studied so hard that I can even spell hors d’oeuvre.”

She then proceeded to spell that word as proof.

The district spelling bee did not last long as the nervousness of the competitors was evident from the start. During the first two rounds, nine of the 11 spellers were eliminated.

In fact, the first two words were misspelled by Grace Smiley and Brianna Sullivan, who were brilliant in finishing first and second, respectively, in the Edgar Murray Bee on Jan. 11. Both of those students are fourth-graders, and Smiley will represent Edgar Murray in The Missourian’s spelling bee in April and in the Post-Dispatch’s competition the month before.

In all, it took only 21 words to produce a winner. In the Edgar Murray bee, in which 22 classroom champions in grades 3-5 took part, 131 words and 10 rounds were needed.

After the end of the second round, only Smith and St. Clair Junior High School sixth-grader Katelyn Clements were left standing. Both girls then incorrectly spelled “ambitious.” Clements then misspelled “magnificent.” Smith spelled that word correctly, then also was right on with “vaporize” to win the local title.

Both Smith and Clements received trophies for their efforts. Clements, as the junior high champion, will join Smiley in The Missourian and Post-Dispatch bees.

When asked if she realized she was the youngest of all who competed and that she won, Smith gave a one-word response.

“Cool,” she said.

The other competitors were fourth-grader Sebastian Vitt, fifth-grader Hannah Folk, sixth-grader Nathan Haellinghoff, seventh-graders Devin McNiff and Ethan Roellig and eighth-graders Jacob Hults and Cambria Copling.