"Beeing" the Best

Edgar Murray Elementary School fifth-grader Sebastian Vitt, left, puts his hands on his knees as he nervously awaits his next turn on Thursday afternoon during the St. Clair R-XIII School District spelling bee in the high school auditorium. Standing next to Vitt are junior high eighth-grader Morgan Puffer and Murray fourth-grader Katie North. The trio ended up being the final three in the competition. North was crowned champion while Vitt finished as the runner-up. Puffer ended up third but will represent the junior high in The Missourian Bee on March 22.

In the end, Edgar Murray Elementary School fourth-grader Katie North navigated the St. Clair R-XIII School District Spelling Bee terrain on Thursday afternoon better than anyone else.

North correctly spelled the word “terrain” to win the annual bee, which earned her a ticket to The Missourian Bee on March 22 at East Central College. North beat schoolmate and Edgar Murray fifth-grader Sebastian Vitt to earn the title.

In the 15th round, Vitt misspelled “apricot.” North then spelled that word as well as “terrain” correctly to win the crown.

Shortly after the bee was finished, in an act of good sportsmanship, Vitt gave North a hearty fist pump to congratulate her.

“It took a lot of studying,” North said afterward.

In all, 10 elementary and junior high school students participated in the event in the St. Clair High School auditorium.

Eighth-grader Morgan Puffer finished third, but will participate in The Missourian Bee as the junior high school’s representative. Vitt is the elementary alternate.

Four Murray pupils had earned the right to compete in the district bee by besting 19 other schoolmates and individual classroom champions a week prior. Six junior high school students won competitions at their school to win the same honor.

The 10 spellers were comprised of  two eighth-, seventh-, sixth- and fourth-graders and one fifth- and third-grader.

Every student spelled their first word correctly on Thursday, but three were eliminated in the second round. After four rounds, six spellers remained.

One student was knocked out in rounds seven through nine as sixth-grader Zachary Vaughn, sixth-grader Hannah Folk and fourth-grader Current Smith were eliminated, respectively.

That left North, Vitt and Puffer, who then each proceeded to spell three words correctly to advance to the 13th round.

However, Puffer then was forced to take a seat at that time when she misspelled “academic,” leaving the two elementary pupils to battle it out for the title.

Other words that were missed on Thursday were “beaker,” “chairman,” “crisscross,” “cheeseburger,” “occupation,” “heredity” and “improvement.”

The other participants were Kennedy Travis, third grade; Jarod Disbrow, seventh grade; Mason Powell, seventh grade; and Brady Branscum, eighth grade.

Judges were R-XIII employees Dawn Kingston and Andrea Wieland. The pronouncer was Amy Hall. District gifted education teacher Jennifer Hawkins organized the event.