Thursday, January 17, 2013
Cassidy Etue has successfully defended her title as top speller in Dorchester School District 2.
The River Oaks Middle School seventh grader, who won last year, was the last of 52 spellers left standing during the DD2 district wide spelling bee held Thursday, Jan. 10 at Knightsville Elementary School.
The annual event showcases the top spellers from all DD2 elementary and middle schools in competition. Nine finalists, including Cassidy, will go to the regional spelling bee, Spellbound, to be held March 6 at 7 p.m. in Charleston Southern University's Lightsey Chapel.
The first three rounds were fairly brutal, with a dozen spellers going out in rounds one and two and fourteen more being culled in round three. Eventually, it came down to Cassidy and Razeem Basunia, a sixth grader at Rollings Middle School of the Arts.
There was some controversy at the end of the event when Razeem was judged to have misspelled the word “salve.” Razeem, visibly upset by the ruling, maintained that he did spell the word correctly. However, after judges Theresa Blitch, Gail Hughes, and Kelly Schroeder reviewed the official recordings that are maintained throughout the event to double check such situations, the ruling was upheld.
“That's why we have the recordings,” Hughes said. “We want to be absolutely sure.”
Cassidy went on to correctly spell “salve,” then won with the correct spelling of the word “patel.”
Razeem – and his parents – protested the ruling. Razeem became emotional, left the stage and did not return either for pictures or for the briefing on the Spellbound event.
The ruling is final and there is no appellate process, according to DD2 officials. Razeem, who came in second, is eligible to participate in Spellbound, according to DD2 officials.
Cassidy admitted that she was somewhat surprised, but definitely happy, to have won again.
“I didn't think that I would be able to win it again,” she said. “A couple of words threw me, but I started to think about what the word looked like, and that seemed to help me.”
She added that the secret to her success is pretty simple and straightforward.
“I studied – a lot,” she said.
With Cassidy winning first and Razeem coming in second, seven other spellers will also have a chance to enter the Spellbound. They are Kaya Clavier of Newington Elementary School, 3rd place; Arianna Varnes, Alston Middle School, 4th place; Sam Towe, Oakbrook Middle School, 5th place; Matthew Robinson, River Oaks Middle School, 6th place; Alex Blount, Gregg Middle School, 7th place; Ashley Wilson, Dubose Middle School, 8th place; and Casimir Karpinski, Oakbrook Middle School, 9th place.