Priceville Junior High student wins Morgan County Spelling Bee
By Wes Tomlinson
For the Enquirer
After hearing the word he was to spell, the look on Priceville Junior High’s Zane Ferguson made clear he knew he was on the verge of winning this year’s Morgan County Spelling Bee. His assumption proved correct as he spelled the word: “a-s-s-u-m-p-t-i-o-n.”
This past Thursday, 34 students competed in the annual spelling bee from Morgan County Schools, Decatur City Schools, Hartselle City Schools, Decatur Heritage Christian Academy and Saint Ann Catholic School. These students were the top spellers from their respective schools.
Ferguson, who is in sixth grade, said he has made it to the district spelling bee two times before but this is the first time he has won. He said the secret was to practice syllables within words when spelling them out.
“I would write down the syllables of every word I practiced, and I think that helped a lot,” Ferguson said.
Students battled it out quickly and by round 5 only four students remained.
Ferguson said the words “heptad,” meaning a group of seven, and “gullibility” were intimidating as he had not heard of them prior to the competition, but the judges confirmed he spelled them correctly and the audience applauded.
Two other students tied to earn the second-place trophy: Claudia Burroghs from Hartselle Junior High, and Mia Hamilton from Cotaco School in the Morgan County school district.
Hamilton, who won a spelling bee in her school before advancing, said this was her first time competing in the district spelling bee.
“The year before, I went into the spelling competition and placed fifth in my school,” Hamilton said. “For this competition, I studied really hard the week before and this week.”
Hamilton said she felt lucky with most of the words she was given but was stumped by the word “morphological,” which sent her packing.
Hamilton is in seventh grade and is in her school’s yearbook club this year. Her favorite subjects are civics, geography and English.
“I’ve always been pretty good at English with writing and stuff like that,” Hamilton said.
When he is not studying, Ferguson said he enjoys playing video games and soccer and intends to play for the Priceville Junior High soccer team next year. He said his favorite subject is history.
Ferguson will now prepare to compete in the state spelling bee, to be held in March. He smiled when asked about his game plan for the competition.
“Just study,” he said.
Morgan County Superintendent Tracie Turrentine said she was proud of the achievements of students who participated Thursday and looks forward to Ferguson representing Morgan County Schools in the state spelling bee.
“It is not easy to speak in public,” Turrentine said. “We are proud of every student in Morgan County who participated in the spelling bee and this is just one example of everything that our students and teachers are doing in the classroom is working.”
The last two years, the Morgan County Spelling Bee was won by former Austin Middle student Deep Patel.
The state spelling bee is scheduled for March 16 in University Hall at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.