Badin fifth grader wins 2024 Stanly County Schools Spelling Bee

Published 6:45 pm Friday, March 1, 2024

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The 15 Stanly County elementary and middle school students who took part in Thursday’s Stanly County Schools Spelling Bee each drew random numbers to see what order they would be in.

When Badin Elementary student Hank Nelson drew the number 13, SCS Chief Academic Officer Lynn Plummer remarked he drew “lucky number 13.”

The number proved lucky for the Badin fifth grader as Nelson spelled “hypocaust,” the name for the hollow space under the floor of a Roman building, to win the title.

After North Stanly Middle’s Cali Russell was eliminated in the ninth round, the contest came down to Nelson and Stanfield’s Stella Brown. Brown was the runner-up in 2022 and won the spelling bee last year.

The two students went through 11 rounds of spelling with words like “altimeter,” “simultaneously,” “incandescent,” and “Erlenmeyer flask,” until Brown misspelled “Macedonia.”

After spelling his final word, Nelson was excited and emotional about winning, falling to the ground out of the view of the attendees.

“The thing I did was study well. I tried to familiarize myself with them. I tried to stick with those hard words and hoped for the best,” Nelson said about preparing for the win. “That month of study, I used it very well.”

His father, Jimmy Nelson, said there were three levels of words on the study guides, and after going through the first level, they “stuck with the second and third levels. He’d study on his own and then I would read him the words off and he’d spell them. We did that a lot.”

Nelson said he and his wife “were on pins and needles.” saying Brown “could spell.”

“I knew he had his work cut out for him,” when it came down to the final two,” Jimmy Nelson said. “But he hung in there and he was confident…he caught fire.”

Regarding the importance of the annual spelling bee, Plummer said, “foundationally, we put such a big emphasis on knowing letter sounds, understanding the sounds letters make to fit to get together to make words. Once they get into third through eighth grade, you’re truly having to use those, not just rote memorization.”

“All of them come through these doors already champions,” he added. “They walk out the door a champion. The fact they made it to this stage already shows the intensity of how important (spelling) is for them to further their learning.”

About Charles Curcio

Charles Curcio has served as the sports editor of the Stanly News & Press for more than 16 years and has written numerous news and feature storeis as well. He was awarded the NCHSAA Tim Stevens Media Representative of the Year and named CNHI Sports Editor of the Year in 2014. He has also won an award from Boone Newspapers, and has won four North Carolina Press Association awards.

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