Top Spellers

Edgar Murray Elementary School fourth-graders Brianna Sullivan, left, and Grace Smiley pose with their medals and certificates after finishing as the runner-up and winner, respectively, in the school’s spelling bee last Friday.

It took 10 rounds and 131 words until Edgar Murray Elementary School fourth-grader Grace Smiley emerged as the winner last Friday in the school’s spelling bee.

Smiley was one of 22 classroom winners who competed in the competition. She now will participate in the R-XIII school district’s spelling bee at 1 p.m. next Tuesday, Jan. 22, in the St. Clair Junior High School library.

For her efforts on Friday, Smiley qualified to represent Edgar Murray in The Missourian’s spelling bee on April 20 after she participates in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch event on March 2.

“I was very impressed with our spellers this year,” St. Clair R-XIII School District gifted education teacher Jennifer Hawkins told The Missourian. “It was evident that they studied.  ... Most of the students’ errors were due to nerves.”

Smiley is in Katy Milberg’s fourth-grade class. She bested fellow fourth-grader Brianna Sullivan by correctly spelling “purification” and then “satire.” Sullivan misspelled “purification” to be eliminated.

Smiley finished as the school’s runner-up a year ago as a third-grader while participating in her first spelling bee at Murray.

“When Brianna added the extra ‘i’ in ‘purification,’ I saw Grace’s eyes light up,” said Hawkins, who coordinated the Murray bee. “She knew she had a chance to win it. Grace is very motivated, and I think she will represent our school well.”

St. Clair pupils in grades three through five attend Edgar Murray. Fifth-grader Hanna Folk, fourth-grader Sebastion Vitt and third-grader Current Smith were the other three finalists and will advance to the district spelling bee next week.

One at a time, each of the 22 classroom winners received a word to spell in a round-robin format. If they spelled their word correctly, they advanced to the next round. Incorrect spellers were eliminated.

When the bee came down to the final two, the missed word as well as a new word had to be correctly spelled to determine the winner.

The other misspelled words on Friday were “other,” “floor,” “spare,” “superstar,” “summer,” “bridge,” “best-case,” “arrest,” “undertow,” “climate,” “cucumber,” “weakness,” “pleasant,” “conclude,” “squalid,” “default,” “enact,” “curiosity,” “primitive” and “isolation.”

Besides the five finalists, other bee spellers were third-graders Adrienne Mangrum, Braedin Turner, Austin Williams, Cora Reed, Cecilia VanNess and Mackenzie Lower; fourth-graders Gavin McGlenn, Elexis Wohlgemuth, Austin Hedge, Taylor Johnson and Colton Lucas; and fifth-graders Jacob Henderson, Carissa Kennedy, Lillian Williams, Jaidyn Neaveill, Kyle Banderman and Zachary Vaughn.