Spelling Bee Champion Takes Weakley County Trophy

Greenfield's Brenley Little Spells Her Way to District Title
Posted on 12/05/2019
This is the image for the news article titled Greenfield's Brenley Little Spells Her Way to District TitleTwelve spellers entered the Weakley County Schools’ (WCS) board room on Thursday and one countywide champion emerged. After an hour of intense spelling, Brenley Little of Greenfield claimed the top honor and the chance to advance to the Tennessee Titans Regional Spelling Bee in Nashville. Luke Lawrence from Gleason School was runner up.

The crowd of parents, friends, teachers and principals from area elementary and middle schools listened intently as pronouncer Betsi Foster articulated each of the words, offering meanings when words could be confused with their homonym or if requested. Judges Jessica Wade, Donald Ray High and Jeff Kelley, all WCS staff, helped to determine when students had successfully followed the rules and correctly spelled the word.

The bee was the first in Foster’s history of nine previous events that saw no one stumble in the first round, she told the audience. Double and silent letters and the deadly “ei, ie” combination were the culprits for ten students. One misspelling in the second round, two in the third, five in the seventh and two in the eighth brought the competition down to two remaining spellers.

The ninth round paired seventh grader Little against Lawrence, a sixth grader. Little replaced the o of “officiant” with an “a.” While it looked like Lawrence might claim the prize, spelling bee rules require the next speller to successfully complete the round and spell another word in the next round. He completed round 9 but “marsupial’ in round 10 caught him off guard. Rounds 11 and 12 were flawless for both participants. Then Little dropped a “u” from “vacuum” in Round 13. Again, Lawrence completed the round but “fallacy” hung him up in the next. Little rallied and in round 16, Lawrence missed that additional “t” in attendee. When “centipede” was offered to Little in round 17, she triumphed.

Little will now have the opportunity to take an online test for spelling and vocabulary as winners from across the state vie for the top 50 test scores in order to compete at the Nissan Stadium-West Club in Nashville on March 7.

Other winners participating in the Weakley County bee were: Dresden Middle School winner Jacoby Sutton and runner up Summer Di Pietro; Gleason School runner-up Trey Mayo; Greenfield School winner Lexia Sawyers; Martin Elementary School winner Kurtis Lovelace and runner up Allyssa Williams; Martin Middle School winner Kyleigh Fishel and runner up Maddox Finney; Sharon School winner Lilly Boyd and runner up Evan Street.

In interviews before the competition on Thursday, 8 of the 12 spellers revealed that this was their first year to participate at the school level. Only one, Summer Di Pietro of Dresden was returning to compete at the county level having achieved that status in two previous attempts.
Overwhelmingly, the students credited “mom” for helping to ensure they had studied sufficiently. Two acknowledged “dad” had also assisted and one had turned mostly to “nana.”

Little admitted that coming into the room at the Weakley County School administration offices in Dresden where the Spelling Bee was held was “nerve wracking.” But she called taking the championship trophy and $100 prize money an honor.

Lawrence agreed that he too was “terrified” but that a look at his mom, Gleason School librarian Amy Lawrence, in the crowd for a reassuring smile after each of his spelling attempts made a big difference.

Little advises potential participants for next year to “give it your best effort.” Lawrence suggests at least 30 minutes every day to study the list of 350 words divided into three levels. Having focused on level one and after achieving runner up status, he added that next year he plans to expand his study to the upper levels. Lawrence received a trophy and $50 prize.

All participants earned a medallion and certificate presented by WCS director Randy Frazier and assistant director Jeff Kelley.

The district Spelling Bee was coordinated by Terri Stephenson. The statewide competition is sponsored by the Tennessee Titans.

District Winners
Spelling Bee District Winners – Brenley Little of Greenfield (front left) earned the championship trophy in Thursday’s Weakley County Schools Spelling Bee. Luke Lawrence of Gleason was runner up. Greenfield principal Jeff Cupples (back left) and Gleason School principal Lee Lawrence and school librarian Amy Lawrence, also Luke’s parents, attended the event in support of their spelling winners.

School winners
Spelling Bee School Winners – School champions and runners up vied for the district championship trophy on Thursday. Seen here are (front row, from left to right) Kurtis Lovelace, Martin Elementary School winner; Lexia Sawyers, Greenfield School winner; Brenley Little, Greenfield School runner up and district champion; Luke Lawrence, Gleason School winner and district runner up; Lilly Boyd, Sharon School winner; Summer Di Pietro, Dresden Middle runner up; (back row, from left to right) Jacoby Sutton, Dresden Middle winner; Evan Street, Sharon runner up; Allyssa Williams, Martin Elementary runner up; Kyleigh Fishel, Martin Middle winner; Maddox Finney, Martin Middle runner up; and Trey Mayo, Gleason runner up.