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Fourth-grader wins county spelling bee (w/video, gallery)

By Carolina Astrain
Feb. 27, 2014 at 11:01 p.m.
Updated Feb. 26, 2014 at 8:27 p.m.

Taylar Rhoden concentrates on  spelling her word in the 2014 Victoria County Spelling Bee. The field was narrowed down to two, Taylar and  Emma Pratka from Vickers Elementary. The two went back and forth until Taylar eventually won.

IF YOU GO

• WHAT: Regional Spelling Bee

• WHEN: 6 p.m. March 18

•  WHERE: Johnson Symposium, Victoria College, 2200 E. Red River St.

• COST: Free

UNUSUAL WORDS

Here are a few of the unusual words used at the 2014 Victoria County Spelling Bee:

• Mollycoddle (noun) - a pampered or effeminate man or boy

• Smorgasbord (noun) - a meal with many different foods that are placed on a large table so that people can serve themselves

• Remora (noun) - any of a family of marine bony fishes that have the anterior dorsal fin modified into a suctorial disk on the head by means of which they adhere especially to other fishes

• Aventurine (noun) - glass containing opaque sparkling particles of foreign material

• Iridology (noun) - the study of the iris of the eye for indications for bodily health and disease

• Liminal (adjective) - of or relating to a sensory threshold

Taylar Rhoden whispered over to fellow Victoria County Spelling Bee contestant Emma Pratka to wish her the best.

"We were talking about the words and telling each other to get them right," Taylar, 10, said.

The two Victoria school district elementary school students faced off in one of the longest spelling bees in recent memory said Danette Johnson, a Victoria County Spelling Bee judge.

"It's the second-longest one I've ever done," said Johnson, who competed in the county bee when she was a student. "It gets to be hard when you run out of words."

Twenty-nine Victoria County students competed in the Victoria County Spelling Bee, hosted by Victoria College, at Johnson Symposium on Thursday.

After a total of 37 rounds, Taylar, a fourth-grader at Schorlemmer Elementary School, was named the champion of the Victoria County Spelling Bee, winning with the word "expediently."

"I was a nervous wreck," said Lynsey Pittman, Taylar's mother. "She studied every day, and even her grandparents would call to help her prepare."

Kim Pittman, Taylar's grandmother, flew in from Mississippi for the contest.

Emma, a fifth-grader at Vickers Elementary, will also advance to the Regional Spelling Bee as Taylar's co-champion and was also cheered on by her grandparents.

"It was totally awesome," Emma, 11, said. "I didn't expect to win; I barely studied."

Last year's Victoria County Spelling Bee co-champions - Anne Marie Therese Eamiguel and Ryan Ehsan - were eliminated with the rest of the competition during the second and fifth rounds.

"They weren't asking words from the spelling packet," said Ryan, who misspelled expunge. "I wasn't expecting the words to change. Congratulations to the winners."

Jennifer Yancey, Victoria College's vice president of college advancement and external affairs, said the words used in the contest can be used from any source, "but students are encouraged to use the resources available to them."

Ryan said he expected Anne Marie Therese to win the competition. She was eliminated in the fifth round after misspelling seraphic, an adjective used to describe something resembling a seraphim, or an order of angels.

"I knew that the list they were calling the words from was a previous list that I had gone through before, but I hadn't been studying it thoroughly, so I wasn't that surprised about losing," Anne, 13, said. "We'll have to see if I decide to compete next year."

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