West Stanly Middle student wins spelling bee

After a tense 11 rounds of spelling, NiJae Hicks, an eighth-grader at West Stanly Middle School, emerged as the last student remaining out of the 16-person field during the Stanly County Schools Spelling Bee. He correctly spelled the word “duopoly” to secure the victory.

The young wordsmiths were met with an array of challenging words, including “dawdle,” “boorish,” “arborio,” “fabulist” and “firmament,” to name a few.

The students prepare for the beginning of the spelling bee.

The spelling bee ended shortly after sixth-grader Carter Callicutt of South Stanly Middle School misspelled “deodorant.” Hicks then calmly spelled “porridge” — and then “duopoly” — to take the championship. Anjali Sawant, fourth-grader at Locust Elementary School, tied with Callicutt for second place.

“I’m still kind of in shock right now,” Hicks said. “I never actually expected to win. I knew I was going to get here — I figured I was going to be at least top five, but I never expected I’d actually win.”

Hicks, 13, said he practiced several times a week for months to prepare for the competition.

He will be congratulated and acknowledged for his efforts during the next Stanly County School Board meeting in March.

“He did a great job,” Superintendent Dr. Jeff James said about Hicks. “He spelled some words that would be difficult for me to spell.”

“The excitement in the air was neat today,” James said. “These kids enjoy this, it lets them get to show off what they’ve learned.

Aside from the top three, the other competitors included: eighth-grader Jazmin Arriaga-Aviles of Albemarle Middle School; third-grader Amari Huntley of Aquadale Elementary School; fifth-grader Ben Williamson of Badin Elementary School; fourth-grader Krishan Patel of Central Elementary School; fifth-grader Teddy Morton of East Albemarle Elementary School; fifth-grader Caroline Bennett of Endy Elementary School; fifth-grader Addison Hatley of Millingport Elementary School; eighth-grader Quinton Harris of North Stanly Middle School; fourth-grader Dylan Raffaldt of Norwood Elementary School; eighth-grader Michael Tucker of Oakboro Choice STEM School; fifth-grader Hunter Hatley of Richfield Elementary School; fourth-grader Cayden Severtson of Stanfield Elementary School; and fifth-grader Hailey Colvin of Stanly County Virtual Education or SCoVE.