How do you spell winner? H-O-U-S-T-O-N
HJHS student claims third consecutive spelling title
Clif Knight, Hartselle Enquirer
For the third year in a row, Hartselle's Houston Cleveland has earned the right to represent Morgan County in the State Spelling Bee.
Cleveland, an eighth grader at Hartselle Junior High School, captured top honors in the Morgan County Spelling Bee on Feb. 4. He claimed the same honor as a sixth grader and a seventh grader.
He is the son of Craig and Michelle Cleveland of Hartselle.
This year's competition was staged at the Wheeler Wildlife Refuge Center auditorium in Decatur. It was open to 34 school winners from Hartselle, Decatur and Morgan County school systems, as well as private schools.
Houston won his third county title by correctly spelling "atrocious" and "interim."
"We were spelling out of the intermediate section of words," Houston said. "I remembered both of them right off the bat. But I reminded myself to slow down and concentrate before answering."
Andrew Lowery, an eighth grader at Oak Park Middle School in Decatur was the runner-up.
Cleveland has advanced in the Spelling Bee in all five years he has competed. He represented Crestline Elementary as a fourth and a fifth grader. He finished fourth in the state as a sixth grader and third as a seventh grader.
"I'm excited about going back to state," Cleveland said. "I hope to finish off the job this time and make it to the nationals."
The state contest will be held next spring in Birmingham and the national finals will follow in Washington, D.C.
Cleveland said competition at the state level is tough because of the number of contestants and the fact that many of them have been there before.
"Spelling has always been easy for me," he said. "Plus, I get a lot of help from my mother. She pronounces the words and I spell them. We usually do five or six pages a day from the 31-page intermediate and advanced word list."