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Two fourth-graders come out on top at Johnson City Schools Spelling Bee

Brandon Paykamian • Updated Feb 7, 2019 at 9:26 AM

Two elementary school students came out on top against favorites from Indian Trail Intermediate School and Liberty Bell Middle School at Wednesday’s Johnson City Schools Spelling Bee, ultimately decided by two words — “approbate” and “operation.”

The competition was a nail-biter that came down to two fourth-grade finalists after eight students from across the district were quickly eliminated.

After Woodland Elementary School’s Haley Hathaway slipped up when she was asked to spell “inhabitant,” it looked like Mountain View Elementary’s Isadora Brown might be able to come out on top.

But when East Tennessee State University English professor and competition pronouncer Scott Honeycutt asked Brown to spell “approbate” — a word she said she was unfamiliar with — she put an “e” in the place of the “o.”

Then Hathaway came back from her mistake and secured first place with the word “operation.” 

Both said going up against the “big kids” was intimidating and nerve-racking, but they were feeling good about coming out on top after a close competition.

Brown said she hopes to come back next year and take first place, but Hathaway said she was just happy to be a part of the district-wide Spelling Bee.

“It made me nervous, but I was still confident in myself,” Hathaway said. “I knew that even if I didn’t win, it was still great to participate in this.”

Other contestants in Wednesday’s annual Spelling Bee were Cherokee Elementary School fourth-grader Camden Downes, Fairmont fourth-grader Blythe Hart, Lake Ridge fourth-grader Sunny Li, North Side fourth-grader Sarentiy Phillips, South Side fourth-grader LoLa Lopez, Towne Acres fourth-grader Ben Cleveland, Liberty Bell seventh-grader Buddy Hart and Indian Trail sixth-grader Shreyas Singh.

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