By Belinda M. Paschal
PIQUA — Two young spellers battled it out, volleying back and forth for several minutes, before sixth-grader Grace Ryan finally emerged as the winner of the Piqua City-Wide Spelling Bee, held Tuesday in the Hartzell Center for the Performing Arts at Piqua High School.
By the sixth round of the bee, Ryan and her opponent, Nick Wright, were the last spellers standing. Ryan, a student at Piqua Catholic School, correctly spelled “angelic” to triumph over runner-up Wright, a seventh grader at Piqua Junior High.
“I was so nervous,” said Ryan, the daughter of Kevin and Gerilynn Ryan of Piqua. “I studied probably every day since Thursday.”
When asked about one of her signature moves during the bee — turning her back to the audience and moving her hands — Ryan giggled and said, “I was praying.” She also was noted for adding a leg bounce to each letter as she spelled such words as “stucco,” “ambiguity,” “potash” and “bungalow.”
Despite studying his spelling packet for only about an hour, Wright, the son of Chad and Stephanie Wright of Piqua, tackled some equally challenging words, including “igneous,” “synonym,” and “temporal” before being bested by “vibrato.”
Ryan and Wright will move on to the regional spelling bee that will be held Saturday, Feb. 22 at Sinclair Community College in Dayton.
The two were among 16 students who competed in the bee, which consisted of students who were winners and runners-up at their building levels. Other competitors from area primary and intermediate schools were: Kiera Burns, Piqua Catholic; Ricky Forrest and Philip Rossman, Favorite Hill; Landon Lawson and Hannah Pleasant, High Street; Vivica Davis and Jordan Slife, Springcreek; Ethan Hammer and Destini Hester, Washington; Samantha Cayton and Alyssa Murphy, Wilder; and John Grear, Piqua Junior High.
All of the contestants were presented plaques from the Piqua Kiwanis, which sponsored the event. Piqua City Schools director of curriculum Dwayne Thompson was the bee coordinator and Jim Oda, director of the Piqua Public Library was the word pronouncer. Judges for the contest were Nancy DeNise of Piqua Catholic; Katy Meece of Piqua Junior High; and Nell Petry, Piqua City Schools gifted coordinator.