Alex Gooch, a first-grader at Floyd Elementary, won his district spelling bee on Thursday by correctly spelling “archers” in front of a packed auditorium of peers, parents and educators at Pahrump Valley High School.
“A-R-C-H-E-R-S. Archers,” Gooch said, tugging at the bottom of his purple school Bobcats T-shirt and looking to the judges for their final ruling.
The boy’s jaw dropped in disbelief when they announced he had spelled the word correctly and was the champion of the
Nye County District Spelling Bee.
The crowd erupted in applause.
Runner-up Thieron Amato, a first-grader at J.G. Johnson Elementary, was eliminated from the competition shortly before Gooch on Thursday. He missed the word “apartment” but was congratulatory of his opponent.
Amato told the Pahrump Valley Times after competing that he was simply excited to mingle with the other spellers on stage, and said he was especially excited to see his grandma cheering him on in the crowd.
Second runner-up Kain Parra, a first-grader from Manse Elementary, celebrated with his family just outside the auditorium after the bee. Parra knocked the final four kindergartners out of the district bee in Round 5, when he correctly spelled a word none of his younger peers could: “Easily.”
It was a fourth-grade-level spelling word, according to Joanna Raubolt, coordinator of the district bee, who said the winners of Thurday’s event would be honored with trophies at a later date once they arrive.
Forty-eight students from Nye County elementary schools were invited to participate in the district spelling bee, Raubolt said, after each placed among the top-two spellers in their classes at their school.
Kindergarteners, along with first- and second-grade spellers competed at the district bee earlier in the morning on Thursday, while third-, fourth- and fifth-grade students from across Nye County competed later in the day.
The winner of the later competition was Franklin DeAngelis and the runner-up was Kylie Butler. Both are fourth-graders at Manse Elementary School.
Nye County middle schoolers will compete in their own district bee on Feb. 9. Winners of that event will have the opportunity to compete in the state spelling bee later this year.
Heartbreak for some
Students had been practicing for the district bee for several weeks, and a number were heartbroken Thursday after missing their spelling words on the high-pressure stage.
Two students from Amargosa Elementary and one from J.G. Johnson Elementary were eliminated in the first round after they all misspelled “help.”
A Hafen Elementary competitor, who was asked to spell “damaged” immediately recognized his mistake on Thursday after he instead spelled the root word “D-A-M-A-G-E.”
“Oh, wait — that’s wrong!” he said, shaking his head before walking off the stage.
Others were operating on adrenaline and nerves and relied on their own self-developed tactics to stay in the bee.
A third-grade speller from Beatty Elementary held her breath and danced on stage when she correctly spelled “nose,” but she was visibly bummed when she later misspelled “fudge.”
A Floyd Elementary student was nearly eliminated on a homonym when she spelled the word “pale” instead of “pail.”
Judges were forced to give the student another word after failing to explain that her word sounded like another word but actually had a different definition. The speller advanced to the next round by correctly spelling “scars.”
The judges asked another young student from Manse to spell “how.”
“How?” she said. “I don’t know how.”
Horace Langford Jr. contributed to this story.
Contact Editor Brent Schanding at firstname.lastname@example.org
This version updates the name of the runner-up for the third- to fifth-grade students.
These words eliminated some of the spellers
at the Nye County District Bee: