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It came down to the hard words

It came down to the hard words
It came down to the hard words
Amelia Robertson, 12, and Ben Aich, 11, finished first and second in the Harrison County Spelling Bee last week at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Corydon. (Photo by Randy West)

Never before have so many good spellers missed so many words in the annual Harrison County Spelling Bee. That’s because they spelled so many routine words correctly (113) that the Bee officials resorted to the tougher ones. Words like arboriculture, empanada, interminable, dissymmetry, aphasia, stratocracy, palooka, genuflect, myriads. In many past Bees, the pronouncer never got to the really difficult words.
After 12 rounds at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Corydon last Tuesday night, 13 spellers from 13 schools had been winnowed to two: Amelia Robertson, 12, an imperturbable sixth grader at North Harrison Upper Elementary School and daughter of Stephen and Anne Robertson of Corydon, and Ben Aich, 11, a fifth grader at New Middletown Elementary School and son of Jim and Sandy Aich of New Middletown.
Over the next 18 rounds, the two spelled 18 words correctly but missed nine. On the 18th and final round, Ben missed scabbard. Amelia spelled that word correctly and won the contest when she also spelled the next word, espionage, correctly.
Amelia will now compete in the Kentucky Derby Festival Spelling Bee on March 26 at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
Amelia is an A student who loves to read, although not in any one category. Her favorite subject in school is English or literature. What’s the last good book she’s read, ‘Harry Potter’? No, she said, ‘I read those a long time ago,’ some more than once. The last good one that came to mind was ‘The Coffin Quilt’ by Ann Rinaldi. She also liked ‘The Lovely Bones,’ a best-seller amongst adults.
Amelia has nine brothers and sisters. Her little brother, Carl, 7, and her younger sister, Ella, 10, who were at the Bee with their parents, figured she’s already read about 1,000 books.
Amelia was in the Bee last year but went out on re-elected.
Amelia’s father builds trucks at the Ford plant in Louisville, and her mother is a housewife and substitute teacher.
Ben Aich is also a good student who likes social studies best in school. This was his first time in the county spelling bee, and for a fifth grader, he didn’t seem intimidated, although he usually looked over at the judges after he spelled each word.
His father teaches music at North Harrison Middle School and his mother is a free-lance court reporter. Ben’s little sister, Hannah, 7, is in the second grade, and she said, ‘I’m a pretty good speller.’
The other contestants were:
Aaron Lasher, eighth grade, Corydon Central Junior High School;
Samantha Colin, fifth grade, Corydon Intermediate;
Cody Frank, sixth grade, Heth-Washington Elementary;
Erin Cox, sixth grade, Lanesville Elementary;
Chase Holland, seventh grade, Lanesville Junior High;
Cheyenne Rouse, fourth grade, Morgan Elementary;
Patrick Albert, eighth grade, North Harrison Middle School;
Faith Johnson, seventh grade, St. John’s Lutheran;
Bradley Green, fourth grade, St. Joseph School;
Tyler Best, sixth grade, South Central Elementary, and
Clinton J. Coulter, seventh grade, South Central Junior High.
The pronouncer was Susan Reich, a retired Jefferson County, Ky., schoolteacher, and the judges were Betty Hayden, Peggy Fluhr and Betty Stem.
In case you’re wondering, here are the definitions of some of those harder words:
Arboriculture: the cultivation of trees and shrubs.
Empanada: a Mexican turnover with a sweet and savory filling.
Interminable: never-ending.
Palooka: an inexperienced or incompetent boxer.
Stratocracy: rule by the military.
Dissymmetry: the lack or absence of symmetry.
Aphasia: the loss of the ability to use or comprehend words.
Myriads: tens of thousands, a great number.
Genuflect: to touch the knee to the floor, especially in worship.