Jamiyah Jackson will have an angel on her shoulder when she takes the stage Tuesday night at the 25th annual The Sun News Regional Spelling Bee.
The 9-year-old lost her grandmother in a car accident last November but said she practiced her spelling words to keep from dwelling on her loss. Just two months later, Jamiyah won the spelling championship for Georgetown County’s Kensington Elementary School and now is poised to compete at the next level.
Jamiyah is just one of the 46 elementary, middle and intermediate students from Horry and Georgetown counties who will participate in the regional competition. The event will be held at the Myrtle Beach High School Music and Arts Center, 3302 Robert Grissom Parkway, with practice spelling at 5:50 p.m. and the competition at 6:30 p.m. The bee also will be streamed live at www.myrtlebeachonline.com.
The spellers will be vying for the chance to represent the Grand Strand at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. The winner will receive an all-expense paid trip for themselves and a chaperone to the event, which will be held in the Washington, D.C., area from May 26 through June 1.
“She was so excited when she won [the school bee],” said Beth Gregory, Jamiyah’s teacher, who said Jamiyah’s grandmother was always at the school supporting her in whatever she was involved. “She is great in academics and with other kids – they love her – and at this age, that’s a compliment.”
Gregory said Jamiyah and a friend get to school early and run words before class begins. Jamiyah said she also gets help at home studying with her aunt.
“I think I’m going to kind of be nervous,” she said of the bee, where her aunt, mother, brother and teachers will be cheering her on. She said she already knows her achievement would have made her grandmother happy and proud.
Competition will be stiff this year, not only with talented newcomers, but with the return of former champions Isabella Neubauer of Lowcountry Preparatory Middle School and David Habibi of Myrtle Beach Middle School. The two ended last year’s bee by going head-to-head for 13 rounds, with Neubauer grabbing her second win in a row.
She and Habibi, the 2010 winner, will not only face each other again, but they also will face their siblings, who are spelling in the bee for the first time. Ryleigh Neubauer will represent Lowcountry Preparatory Lower School, and Eli Habibi will represent Chabad Academy.
This will be the fourth spelling bee for Isabella, who said even though she’s already won, she’s studying more now than before, because she can get really nervous even with an easy word like “cauliflower.” She said she and Ryleigh have been studying separately with their father and she still feels it’s important to win again, but it will be fun having her sister in the competition.
“I think she’s really nervous, but I’ll try and help her when we get there,” Isabella said. “I’ll try and tell her something, although Mom has probably said it all already.”
Despite the outcome, no one leaves the bee a loser, as there always is a prize for everyone. In honor of the bee’s 25th year, each speller will receive a spelling bee T-shirt, and all schools will be entered into a random drawing for $250. All contestants will receive a trophy recognizing them as champions of their local school spelling bees, along with prizes and passes to local attractions.
The champion’s prizes will include Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, a one-year subscription to Encyclopaedia Britannica Online Premium, passes to local attractions and a trophy from The Sun News. The first runner-up will receive a Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary, passes to local attractions and a trophy from The Sun News.
This year’s champions (c) and alternates (a) of local, participating schools are:
• Andrews Elementary: Keyomie Mention (c), Dawson Wheeler (a)
• Aynor Elementary: Nathan Roberts (c), Tanner Parker (a)
• Aynor Middle: Payton Barnhill (c), Jawhan Kersey (a)
• Black Water Middle: Matthew Videan (c), Mathew Martin (a)
• Browns Ferry Elementary: Alexis Crockett (c), Kaliyah Miller (a)
Burgess Elementary: Hudson Hok (c), Bryce Holseberg (a)
• Carolina Forest Elementary: Alex McKay (c), Annika Hardy (a)
• Carvers Bay Middle: Brennan Knowles (c), Shaimar Washington (a)
• Chabad Academy: Eli Habibi (c), Gilly Habibi (a)
• Conway Elementary: Cole Sprouse (c), Derek Herrera-Diaz (a)
Conway Middle: Shane Mooney (c), Sha’Keemia Bellamy (a)
• Daisy Elementary: Caleb Paul (c), T’Asia Smalls (a)
• Forestbrook Elementary: Randi Jennings (c), Liam Sutherland (a)
• Forestbrook Middle: Avery Isgett (c), Preston Wilson (a)
• Georgetown Middle: Isabella Young (c),
• Green Sea Floyds Elementary: Anthony Jackson (c), Angelique Stevens (a)
• Homewood Elementary: Emily Williams (c), Jayla Dewitt (a)
• Kensington Elementary: Jamiyah Jackson (c), Maggie Eldridge (a)
• Kingston Elementary: Stephen Stec (c), John Colby Kennedy (a)
• Lakewood Elementary: Nick Gore (c), Mhyla Delhomme (a)
• Loris Elementary: Andre’ Shaw (c), Kenley Jackson (a)
Loris Middle: Isabella Davis (c), Julia Badillo (a)
• Lowcountry Preparatory Lower: Ryleigh Neubauer (c), Emily Skillman (a)
• Lowcountry Preparatory Middle: Isabella Neubauer (c), Chetna Patel (a)
• Maryville Elementary: Breaisha Knox (c), Edward Tupacz (a)
• Myrtle Beach Middle: David Habibi (c), Nicole Cedillo-Avila (a)
North Myrtle Beach Intermediate: Savannah Lewis (c), Hayden Best (a)
• North Myrtle Beach Middle: Marqwon Bell (c), Jequin Brown (a)
• Ocean Bay Elementary: Ana Nikolla (c), Grant Carter (a)
• Ocean Bay Middle: Caitlyn Dudley (c), Lunden McIver (a)
• Palmetto Bays Elementary: Michelle Thompkins (c), Zachary Gordon (a)
• Pee Dee Elementary: Conner Chaplin (c), Landry Harrelson (a)
• Plantersville Elementary: DeAsia Morant (c), Jamiya Bromell (a)
• Pleasant Hill Elementary: Vivian Wright (c), Destiny Poston (a)
• Rosemary Middle: Jordan Casselman (c), KyNajah Johnson (a)
• St. Andrew Catholic: Justin Roberts (c), Christopher Poole (a)
• St. James Elementary: Marcos Mann (c), Cameron Thompson (a)
• St. James Middle: John “Jack” Hoodenpyl (c), Morgan Svejkovsky (a)
• St. Michael Catholic: Jaan Nandwani (c)
• Sampit Elementary: Joshua Baker (c), Zachary Lambert (a)
• Seaside Elementary: Sydney Goodman (c), Jillian Brown (a)
• Socastee Elementary: Nicklas Singleton (c), Aubrey Welch (a)
South Conway Elementary: Lyania Hunt (c), Jada Harrison (a)
• Waccamaw Elementary: Jaxon Parson (c), Titus Parmley (a)
• Waccamaw Intermediate: Gentry Miller (c), Parker Cline (a)
• Waccamaw Middle: Jacob Alvarez (c), Sean Kelley (a).