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County champs prepare for Regional Spelling Bee

By Carolina Astrain
March 16, 2014 at 11 p.m.
Updated March 16, 2014 at 10:17 p.m.

Calhoun County Spellers

Stella Grace Motl

Age: 9

Grade: Third

School: HJM Elementary School

Parents: Dr. Kenneth and Gay Motl

Other achievements: Student council

Hobbies: 4-H, ballet, tap and hunting

Anthony Liu

Age: 11

Grade: Sixth

School: Travis Middle School

Parents: George Liu and Amy Lin

Other achievements: Plays piano, violin and saxophone

Hobbies: video games

2012 HJM Spelling Bee winner

DeWittCounty Spellers

Brady Robert Watson

Age: 11

Grade: Sixth

School: Cuero Intermediate

Parents: Trent and Jami Watson

Other achievements: Student council president, placed first and second in UIL Number Sense for five years

Hobbies: Soccer, basketball, playing piano, singing and acting, raising hogs for 4-H

School bee winner 2012, 2013, 2014; DeWitt County bee winner 2012, 2013, 2014; attended regional bee 2012, 2013.

Muriel Margaret Cotman

Age: 13

Grade: Seventh

School: The Acorn School

Parents: The Rev. Bill and Tessa Cotman

Other achievements: Earned the Girl Scout Junior Bronze Award and the Girl Scout Cadet Silver Award. In addition to her home state of Texas, Muriel has lived in Wyoming and New York state.

Hobbies: Playing the piano

DeWitt County spelling bee alternate, 2013.

Goliad County Spellers

Mason Urban Towery

Age: 11

Grade: Sixth

School: Goliad Intermediate School

Parents: Dr. Layne and Sherill Towery

Other achievements: Involved in 4-H rifle project and is first-chair trombone in the GIS band

Hobbies: Hunting and fishing, remote control cars

Felicia Marie Aguayo

Age: 12

Grade: Seventh

School: Goliad Middle School

Other achievements: Student council and honor classes.

Hobbies: Reading, UIL events, volleyball, baking

Jackson County Spellers

Christopher Robinson

Age: 9

Grade: Third

School: Edna Elementary School

Parents: De'Andra Delgado

Other achievements: Likes math

Hobbies: Basketball, football

Jason Hessong

Age: 11

Grade: Sixth

School: Edna Junior High School

Parents: Anna and George (G.W.) Hessong

Hobbies: Hunting, 4-H, fishing

Lavaca County Spellers

Erica Marie Pavliska

Age: 13

Grade: Eighth

School: Sacred Heart Catholic School

Parents: Chuck and Cheryl Pavliska

Other achievements: National Junior Honor Society, honor roll, 2014 Geography Bee champion

Hobbies: Reading, drawing, running, animals, cheerleading, baking

Weston Cole Appelt

Age: 10

Grade: Fifth

School: Hallettsville Junior High

Parents: Jason and Carmen Appelt

Other achievements: Orange belt in Tae Kwan Do, student council and an A student

Hobbies: Playing "Minecraft," Tae Kwan Do, hunting

School spelling bee, 2012-13 champion

Victoria County Spellers

Taylar Brooke Rhoden

Age: 10

Grade: Fourth

School: Schorlemmer Elementary

Parents: Lynsey Pittman

Hobbies: Reading, writing

Emma Gene Pratka

Age: 11

Grade: Fifth

School: Vickers Elementary School

Parents: Dwaine and Amy Pratka

Other achievements: Won the 2013 Vickers Spelling Bee, student council president, first place in accelerated reader points in her grade level three years running.

Hobbies: Reading, basketball, art

Vickers Elementary 2013 champion


WHAT: Regional spelling bee

• WHEN: 6 p.m. Tuesday

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

• COST: Free, open to the public

Prizes for regional spelling bee winners:

The regional spelling bee champion receives an all-expenses-paid trip sponsored by the Victoria Advocate to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

• First place: One Samuel Louis Sugarman Award Certificate donated by Jay Sugarman; one-year membership to Britannica Online Premium donated by Encyclopedia Britannica; Webster's Third New International Dictionary

• Second place: A Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, donated by Merriam-Webster

The regional spelling bee will draw 12 co-champions from six Crossroads counties to the Johnson Symposium stage Tuesday evening.

Anthony Liu, 11, a Travis Middle School sixth-grader, started competing in the spelling bee as a third-grader.

"My brother won the county bee, and he went to Victoria one time three years ago," Anthony said. "I wanted to get to Victoria, too, so I started studying."

Anthony reads all the words in his study packet to his mother, Amy Lin, and she reads them back to him using a computer as an aide for pronunciation.

"Three years ago, when my oldest son went to Victoria, he lost on the word 'cruller' because the pronouncer said it differently than he had been learning it," Lin said. "So this time, I've been very careful by using the computer."

Anthony is excited about making it to the regional spelling bee competition in Victoria for the first time.

"I'm really excited," Anthony said. "I might lose; I might win."

Last year, Anthony was the Calhoun County alternate for the regional spelling bee, his mother said.

The week of the spelling bee will be a busy one for Anthony, said his mother, because he's also participating in a mathematics competition called Mathcounts.

"He wants to win the spelling bee for us because every summer we go back to Taiwan, but this year, we probably won't go back," Lin said. "If he wins the spelling bee, he said we can go to Boston and D.C. instead of Taiwan - so we're counting on him."

His mother said, joking, if he doesn't win, they'll be going to New Hampshire to visit a family friend instead.

"I've been telling him to take it easy," Lin said. "I don't want to put too much pressure on him."



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