Imagine the pressure of standing in front of an audience with a caller passing out words like ricochet, matinee, rupee, hominy, spherical and omnipotent — as a young person or even as an adult — words you’ve never even heard of and certainly never had to spell.

Twenty-nine elementary and middle school spelling champions were put to the test through a war of words Thursday during the 2018 Douglas County Association of Educators (DCAE) sponsored Douglas County Spelling Bee.

There were many clutched hands and white knuckles —by the students, parents and teachers alike — in anticipation of the word they had to correctly spell or face elimination.

Factory Shoals Middle School student Mariah McBee won the county spelling bee, with spelling the word m-a-c-a-d-a-m-i-a correctly following a close back-and-forth word battle against Zachary Armas, seventh grader at Mason Creek Middle School, who came in as first runner-up after missing the word v-i-g-i-l-a-n-t-e.

Second runner-up Lauren Queen, a seventh-grade student at Fairplay Middle School, stayed in the competition through Round 8, hanging on until finally missing the word s-h-r-a-p-n-e-l.

At that point, the pressure and nail biting in the room accelerated as the last two spelling competitors faced off in a spelling playoff, after lasting through eight rounds, two of which were vocabulary rounds.

Cathy Swanger, executive area director for curriculum and instruction, encouraged the students to relax and have fun during the event. She said that participating in the spelling bee would be something they would never forget — and they would never forget the one word that caused them to be eliminated.

Spelling bee judges were McKeith Cordell, Tennile Edwards and Rebecca Jackson and the caller was Victoria Burnett, who pronounced the words, used the words in a sentence and provided definitions of the word upon request of the district contestants.

The school district level is a preliminary contest toward the Scripps National Spelling Bee held in Washington, D.C. The first and second place winners will participate in the Georgia Association of Educators (GAE) Region 4 Spelling Bee on Feb. 24 at Frederick Douglass High School in Atlanta.

Students from grades 4 through 8 can participate in the spelling bee competition.

The county spelling bee has been hosted by Douglas County in Citizens' Hall at the Douglas County Courthouse for the past seven years. It was broadcast live on Douglas County’s government access channel DCTV 23 and will be repeated for those unable to see the competition live.

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