The auditorium was hushed but for the nervous shuffling of feet as contestants prepared to take their places on the stage. Cheyenne Baucom and Shayla Ephraim sat with Shayla's mother, Dana Ephraim before the spelling bee began. Dana quietly told the girls to just go up there and do their best.

Parents gave nods of encouragement as spellers of Dorchester School District Two elementary and middle school students gathered Jan. 10 competing in the district-wide bee.

As the competition began, student's faces were expressionless and nerves were visibly frayed as fifty-five school spelling bee winners in fifth through eight grades vied for the title of District Two's top speller at the annual event held at Knightsville Elementary School.

As the fierce competition progressed, the desire to win overcame any initial nervousness. When the smoke cleared in the sixteenth round, two gladiators were left standing.

This year's highly competitive spelling bee came down to two contestants in the sixteenth round. Billie Proveaux misspelled the work "rhythm" which Jimmy Woods spelled correctly.  

Jimmy spelled "perpetual" correctly to cinch the title of 2008 District Two Spelling Bee Champion.

"I was really nervous during the first round, but after that, it wasn't too bad," said Woods who wants to eventually become an architect. The spelling victor says he'll be studying lists of words every night in preparation for the next competition.

Runner up Billie Proveaux says she was a little nervous at first.

"I had butterflies in my stomach, but it was a good kind of nervous."  

Proveaux says she wants to become a lawyer. "I think I want to start at USC."

This year's winners were first place Jimmy Woods, Alston Middle School; second place Billie Proveaux, Gregg Middle School; third place Wade Nix, Gregg Middle School; fourth place Amy Chang, Rollings Middle School of the Arts; fifth place Evan Tilson-Stroud, River Oaks Middle School; sixth place Carter Edwards, Fort Dorchester Elementary School; seventh place Lonnie Russell, Rollings Middle School of the Arts; eighth place Abby Ondrus, Oakbrook Elementary School; and ninth place Monique Mullen, Rollings Middle School of the Arts.    

 The nine finalists will go on to compete in the SpellBound Regional Bee on March 13, 2008.   

The winner of SpellBound will represent the Lowcountry in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. this summer.

Contact Sharon Gnau at 873-9424 ext. 215 or sgnau@journalscene.com.