Winner crowned in county spelling bee
by Gary Hanner
Feb 19, 2014 | 2740 views |  0 comments | 24 24 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Gary Hanner/The Daily Home
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Ben Willingham won the 2014 St. Clair County Spelling Bee Tuesday. He spelled lethargy to win the title. He is an eighth grade student at Duran North Jr. High School.
Gary Hanner/The Daily Home

Ben Willingham won the 2014 St. Clair County Spelling Bee Tuesday. He spelled lethargy to win the title. He is an eighth grade student at Duran North Jr. High School.
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Gary Hanner/The Daily Home
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Anna Claire Smith finished fourth in the county spelling bee. One of the people she competed against was her younger brother Baylor Smith. Anna Claire is a seventh grade student at Duran South.
Gary Hanner/The Daily Home

Anna Claire Smith finished fourth in the county spelling bee. One of the people she competed against was her younger brother Baylor Smith. Anna Claire is a seventh grade student at Duran South.
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Gary Hanner/The Daily Home
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Baylor Smith found himself competing against his sister in the St. Clair County Spelling Bee. Baylor is a fourth grade student at Kennedy School in Pell City.
Gary Hanner/The Daily Home

Baylor Smith found himself competing against his sister in the St. Clair County Spelling Bee. Baylor is a fourth grade student at Kennedy School in Pell City.
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People say the third time is the charm. For Pell City’s Ben Willingham, it was the fifth time that was the charm.

After four unsuccessful attempts to win the St. Clair County Spelling Bee, Willingham won the spelling bee earlier this week. He will move on to represent St. Clair County at the State Spelling Bee that will be held March 8, at Oak Mountain High School.

Willingham beat out 20 other spellers from across St. Clair County to win the championship.

“This is pretty cool,” Willingham said. “I’ve been waiting for a long time. I’ve always placed here at the county level. I’ve either been runner-up or third place.”

The word Willingham spelled correctly to win the title was ‘lethargy.’

It means a state of sluggishness, inactivity, and apathy.

Willingham is an eighth grade student at Duran North Jr. High School. He is the 13-year-old son of Mike and Stacy Willingham of Pell City.

It was the third attempt to have the county spelling bee, which was held at the auditorium of Springville Middle School. Snow postponed the first two attempts.

Finishing runner-up was Brady Argo, a 10-year-old fourth grade student at Moody Middle School.

“It feels pretty good to finish in second place,” Argo said. “I still have four more years that I can compete in this spelling bee.”

Third place winner was Keallen Looney, an 11-year-old sixth grade student at Ashville Middle School.

Looney said it felt good to place third in the countywide spelling bee.



Brother vs. sister
In an unusual twist, there was a brother/sister duo from Pell City competing in the county spelling bee.

Anna Claire Smith is a seventh grade student at Duran South Jr. High School. Her younger brother, Baylor Smith, is a fourth grade student at Walter M. Kennedy Elementary School.

Anna Claire competed as a fourth grade student and won the county spelling bee. The next year, as a fifth grade student, Anna Clair finished third in the county. She did not compete in the county spelling bee last year, but was back this year for the third time.

This was the first time for Baylor to compete.

The two siblings are the children of Scotty and Janet Smith.

“I couldn’t be more proud,” Mrs. Smith said. “It’s one thing to have one child, but then to have two children up there is something else. It is double the preparation, and at the same time, it is double the anxiety.”

Smith said she supports her two children equally, and that she loves them both.

But you ask Baylor, and he said he wanted to beat his sister, but it didn’t happen.

Baylor spelled three words correctly, but in the fourth round, he misspelled hibachi.

“I will never forget how to spell hibachi for as long as I live,” Baylor said.

Anna Claire finished in the Top Four, and misspelled the word ambivalent. Anna Claire spelled it with an ‘ant’ instead of an ‘ent.’

“I’m glad Ben won,” Anna Claire said. “He is a friend of mine.”

Contact Gary Hanner at ghanner@thestclairtimes.com.