by Paul Darst
Six Harrison County students Wednesday showed they know how to spell s-u-c-c-e-s-s.
They were among the 24 fourth through eighth graders who took part in the Harrison County Spelling Bee at Robert C. Byrd High School.
Five individuals, plus one alternate, won the competition and will represent the county in the 18th annual Regional Spelling Bee in March, said Vicki Huffman, director of the bee.
The winners are: Kara Beevers, eighth grade homeschooler; Liam Davis, Salem Middle School eighth grader; Michael Hartman, Gore Middle School seventh grader; Ben Linville, Lumberport Middle School sixth grader; and Kalea McIntire, Nutter Fort Intermediate School fifth grader.
The alternate is Paul Hoffer, South Harrison Middle School eighth grader, who will take part in the regional competition if one of the others cannot attend.
One by one, the competitors left their seats, went to the microphone, pronounced their word, spelled it, then said it again.
A nod from the judges and the pronouncer told them the word was spelled correctly. The ring of a small bell meant their day was over.
Competitors made it through words like, "stalemate," "hazardous," "russet," and "knowledge."
But "balloonist," "hearth," and "ermine" sent some off the stage.
Succeeding in the bee did not mean hours and hours of studying for McIntire or Hoffer.
"I didn't study that much," McIntire said. "I just listened to my gut."
This was her first time in the county competition. Hoffer was there once before a couple of years ago, he said.
"I studied about five or 10 minutes before I left (for the bee)," Hoffer said.
Hartman credits two of his teachers, Charles Kovalan and Charles Leuliette Jr., with teaching him how to prepare.
But it wasn't just studying that earned him a trophy, he said.
"I was just hoping I would get really, really lucky," he said. "I think it was just luck for me."
Hartman is not the only one who believes fortune played a role in winning. Linville, who competed at the county level for the first time this year, also credits good luck for giving him a victory.
"I didn't think this was too much harder than the school (competitions)," he said. "I think I got the easy words."
As the number of students on stage dwindled, the competitors became more and more isolated. Beevers found that awaiting her next turn was the hardest part of the bee.
"I try to clear my mind," Beevers said, indicating that doing so is not easy in the midst of competition. "It's easier to do when you get up (to the microphone)."
The five will compete in the regional spelling bee at RCB March 18 at 7 p.m.
Staff writer Paul Darst can be reached at 626-1404 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.