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Great Bend Middle School spellers take first and second at county spelling bee
8th grader Mattison to sit for state bee
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Barton County Spelling Bee Master of Ceremonies Kate Wary presented trophies and awards to the winners of the 2019 Barton County Spelling Bee Saturday morning at the Great Bend High School Auditorium. First place winner was Sydney Mattison, left, and second place winner was Jacklyn Garcia, right. - photo by Veronica Coons

Saturday morning, ace spellers from around the county met at the Great Bend High School Auditorium for the county-wide Donald H. Humphreys Barton County Spelling Bee. Schools represented were middle schools from Great Bend and Ellinwood, USD 428 grade schools Jefferson, Riley, Lincoln, Park and Eisenhower, Central Kansas Christian Academy, St. Joseph Catholic School and Ellinwood Grade School. The 20 students who qualified to compete ranged from 4th through 8th grade. Some were unable to attend the bee, however.

Master of Ceremonies Kate Wary welcomed participants and their family members. The Great Bend Kiwanis Club began sponsoring the event in 1978, and has continued uninterrupted for the past 38 years, she said. The bee has been a long time tradition in Barton County, she said, and Kiwanis is proud of its involvement in the program for so many years. 

Wary introduced pronouncer Julie Carroll and judges Jonathan Pike and Jay Luerman. Barb Esfeld monitored the tape recorder. Words were sent to schools prior to the event, she said. Each year, the list contains more words than are typically asked at any of the state-wide events, so while students bad a study list, they still had to prepare for the unexpected. 

Two practice rounds were allowed so students could become familiar with moving to the front of the stage, speaking clearly into the microphone, and stating the word first, spelling it, and then repeating the word. Carroll informed students when a word had a near homonym or could be confused with a similar word, and she shared the definition in those instances. Students asked for her to use the word in a sentence, or provide other information like its origin or definition when they were uncertain. 


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Two practice rounds were allowed before the competition got underway at the Great Bend High School Auditorium Saturday morning. Students competed to determine the best speller in Barton County. The winner of the spelling bee will be invited to attend the state spelling bee at Newman University in March.

When the practice rounds were over, students were told to have a seat with their parents sas they were eliminated. After a perfect first round, the field began to narrow. By the start of Round 5, only 4 participants remained on stage. 

At that point, Wary announced it was time to switch to the end of bee procedure. Those whose spelling was incorrect would return to their seats on stage until the end of the round. At the end of Round 5, Great Bend Middle School 8th grader Sydney Mattison, daughter of Brandi Mattison and student of Ms. Leathers won first place. Her championship word was “porridge.”

To determine second place, the remaining three spellers were given one more word each. Great Bend Middle School 7th grader Jacklyn Garcia, daughter of Sonia Garcia and student of Ms. Leathers, won the first round, and her championship word was “bonito.” Garcia was the first place winner last year when she participated as a Riley Elementary School 6th grader. 

Wary presented both with trophies and Great Bend Chamber of Commerce gift certificates. Other participants were also presented with school participation ribbons. 

Mattison will be invited to the Sunflower State Spelling Bee on Saturday, March 21, at Newman University in Wichita. If she is unable to attend, the invitation will be extended to Garcia. 

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Great Bend Middle School 8th grader Sydney Mattison won first place at the Barton County Spelling Bee on Saturday. Mother Brandi Mattison and grandfather Martin Mattison, pictured here, were there to offer support.