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By Jocelyn Rowley

Hudgins crowned spelling champ


December 13, 2018

Jocelyn Rowley

Fifth-grader Nola Fisher received a Word of the Day Calendar and a certificate for her second place finish.

The winning word was ‘diminutive’, but the accomplishment was just the opposite for Niwot Elementary fifth-grader Andrew Hudgins. The second-time finalist outlasted 12 other talented spellers to claim victory in the school’s annual bee, which was held at the school on Dec. 5.

“I read through the list every night and memorized most of the words,” Hudgins said of his victory strategy. “I also practiced with my mom every day. She would read me words and I would spell them.”

That daily commitment paid off. Hudgins made quick work of his words over the first ten rounds, including ‘dismissal’, ‘fulcrum’, and the relatively obscure ‘fiddle-faddle’. By round 11, the field had narrowed from 13 to two, but Hudgins knew that defeat could be just one incorrect utterance away.

“I was scared when I got ‘humanitarian’,” he said of his 11th-round word. “It’s really long, and I was scared I was going to lose my place.”

Hudgins secured his victory in the 14th round, after his opponent stumbled on ‘garbanzo’. For the win, Hudgins received a special certificate along with a decidedly un-diminutive copy of the New Oxford American Dictionary. He will also represent the school in the Barnes & Noble Regional Spelling Bee in February 2019.

This year’s runner-up was Hudgins’ classmate Nola Fisher, another second-time finalist who correctly spelled ‘shriek’, ‘alabaster’, and ‘buzzard’ in the early going. Fisher also got help from her mom in the weeks leading up to the competition.

Jocelyn Rowley

Fourth-grader Alma Boyd, left, took third in the 2018 Niwot Elementary spelling bee.

In third place was fourth-grader Alma Boyd, who conquered ‘jerkily’ and ‘antagonism’, but misspelled ‘peasantry’ in Round 10. To prepare, Boyd said she “read books”, but a positive outlook was also a key strategy. She hopes to be back again in the finals next year, but she isn’t necessarily hoping to claim the top spot.

“If I go for first place, then I’ll get a big heavy book to drop on my toe and then there’s another spelling bee.”

​ The NES spelling bee is open to all third, fourth and fifth-grade students, who take written tests before the field is winnowed down to a dozen or so finalists. Other participants in the 2018 competition were fifth-graders Gwyneth Atkinson, Aderlie Baron, and Jack Frailey; fourth-graders Calvin Aherns, Hudson Bell, Mackenzie Hollar, Shaan Karande, Zack Krone; and the lone third-grader, Connor Easter.


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