Nerves, poise and intelligence were all on full display on Tuesday night as 37 students in grades 3-8 took the stage for the Inaugural Literacy Council Spelling Bee at The Alhambra Theatre. The event, which was divided into two grade divisions, was sponsored by the Christian County Literacy Council.

When the final letters were uttered, the winner of the 3rd-5th Grade Division was Annabelle Burley, a 5th grade home schooled student. The winner of the 6th-8th Grade Division was Emily Voss, an 8th grade home schooler.

Burley won her division by spelling “piano”, after knocking out five other contestants by spelling “manor.” The second-place finisher was John Carson Vergara, a third grade Indian Hills Elementary student. Third place went to Graham Westerfield, a fifth grade Sinking Fork Elementary student. The second and third place finish was determined in a “spell-off” among five competitors.

Voss took the crown among the older students by correctly spelling “foreign” after a knockout correct spelling of “accommodate.” The runner-up honor went to Prisha Shah, a University Heights Academy sixth grader. Third place was earned by Brooklyn Martinez, a South Christian Elementary sixth grader. The final threesome covered five rounds together to determine the final order.

“This was a stellar event! It was encouraging to see our students exercise their spelling abilities,” said Francene Gilmer, Director of the Literacy Council. ”Our board is also encouraged by the parents who took a moment to say thanks for providing this opportunity for learning personal growth.”

The Spelling Bee idea materialized six months ago during a Literacy Council board meeting brainstorming session.

“The Spelling Bee seemed like a fun way to promote literacy in our community and bring awareness to the Literacy Council at the same time,” said board Secretary Beth Brockman, who also served as chair of the event. “We are already looking forward to and planning for next year’s Spelling Bee.”

Students from all local schools and home schoolers were invited to enter the contest. Ten schools were represented at the Spelling Bee. With a year under their belt, Literacy Council board members are anticipating that the event will grow in 2022.

The Literacy Council office is located in Martin Luther King Elementary School. For more information about the Christian County Literacy Council, follow the committee on Facebook and Instagram, or contact Gilmer at

— Submitted to the Eagle Post

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