After 22 rounds, Emma is spelling bee champ

Oak View Middle School's Emma Porter won the annual Alachua County Public Schools District Spelling Bee Program at the Kirby-Smith board room in Gainesville Wednesday.

Erica Brough/Staff Photographer
Published: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 7:04 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, January 23, 2013 at 7:04 p.m.

Emma Porter stood at the microphone pondering the word she needed to spell in order to win the day.

The Oak View Middle School student had lasted 22 rounds and survived words like exuberant, musicale and keelhaul. She asked for the definition to buy some time and get the letters in order in her head.

"R-I-D-I-C-U-L-O-U-S. Ridiculous," she said.

With that, Porter punched her ticket to the regional spelling bee in Jacksonville as she won the Alachua County Public Schools District Spelling Bee on Wednesday.

Parents and teachers packed into the boardroom at the Kirby-Smith Center to see 38 students from public and private schools compete.

Tim McShane, pronouncer, reassured the spellers after a practice round.

"Take your time. Relax," he said. "Remember, you're all champions."

Formidable words like "obituary," "jitney" and "taciturn" bested students and emptied the rows of the chairs at the front of the room.

David Bowden, a 9-year-old fifth-grader at Forest Grove Christian Academy, stumbled over "malachite" in the third round.

He later said the words he did spell correctly were a result of good training.

"I sounded them out by syllables," he said. "That's what my teacher taught me."

By round 16, two students were left. Alexandra Ro, who attends Oak Hall School, faced off against Porter.

In the 22nd round, Ro was interrupted by the ding of a bell as she tried to spell "regatta."

"I didn't think I would get that far," she later said.

Porter beamed as she heard she had won a free week at Camp Crystal for the summer, in addition to gift certificates to local restaurants and a chance to advance at the annual Times-Union Regional Spelling Bee in Jacksonville in February.

"I'm really competitive," she said, explaining that she made flash cards with every word she practiced spelling, writing the origins and definitions on each one.

"I think that's why," she said.

Contact Joey Flechas at 338-3166 or

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