Third in 2017. Second in 2018.
The next logical step for Dayton Smith was to win his grade level in the Jackson County Spelling Bee.
On Monday afternoon at the pavilion at the Jackson County Fairgrounds in Brownstown, Smith correctly spelled four words and found himself among the top three out of 16 students who completed fifth grade in the spring.
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After four more words, Jordyn Davis, who also was a student at Seymour-Redding Elementary School, missed the word “inquire,” leaving Smith going against Sawyer Smith of Cortland Elementary School.
Sawyer misspelled “especially,” and Dayton made his way through the word after correcting himself. All he needed to do was spell one more word right to win.
“Temperature” was the word given by announcer Shelli Plummer with event sponsor Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Indiana Realty in Seymour.
Dayton correctly spelled that word, too, and then threw his hands in the air with excitement.
“When I heard the word ‘temperature,’ I thought, ‘OK, so this word, I’ve heard it quite a few times before, and I’ve read it in books, so I know how to spell this,'” Dayton said. “Then I spelled it right, and I ended up winning.”
“It means a lot for me because now, I can have a (plaque) on my wall for third, fourth and fifth grade,” he said. “This is going to be a way to remember my old school once I get off into middle school and high school.”
Dayton, who will start at the Seymour Middle School Sixth Grade Center in August, received a plaque, a certificate, a medal and some candy for his win.
He said being a part of the spelling bee and participating in Spell Bowl the past two years paid off.
“My strategy going into this was the moment I heard the word, I took a moment in my head and tried to think of ‘What would be a reasonable way to spell this?’ and then I thought of it,” Dayton said. “Another thing that I did was if I heard a word that I had read before in a book, I thought about the book, I thought about the page and I thought about how that word looked.”
Students qualified for the 43rd annual event after winning the spelling bee in their classroom at school. Boys and girls who were in third, fourth and fifth grades in the 2018-19 school year from all Jackson County schools participated.
There were 144 winners from around the county, but only 65 were able to make it Monday.
The competition started with the third-grade division. By the eighth round, there were only three left out of 24.
Emmalyn Sipes from Emerson Elementary School was eliminated after she forgot to say her word, “wrecked,” before she started spelling it. After hearing the word pronounced and in sentence form, they had to say it, then spell it and then say the word again.
That left Mason Williams from Immanuel Lutheran School and Treyton Cox from Brownstown Elementary School to battle it out.
Both missed the word “friendliness,” and Cox correctly spelled “government.”
On the word “celebration,” Williams missed it, and Cox got it right.
“I was nervous, definitely,” Cox said of how he felt early in the competition.
Toward the end, though, he said he shook off the nerves.
“They lessened because I was like, ‘He could get it wrong, and I could spell it right,'” Cox said.
He said he was happy to hear words he knew.
“I already knew both of those,” he said of “government” and “celebration.” “They were easy because I’ve literally done most of (the words) before. It just comes easily to me.”
The fourth-grade division had the most competitors of the day, 25.
At the start of the fifth round, there were only seven kids remaining. Then it went from four to three to two.
Ayden Stark from Emerson Elementary School correctly spelled “attention,” and Marley Warren from Lutheran Central School missed “poisoning,” but so did Stark.
Then Stark spelled “postage” right,” Warren aced “several” and Stark breezed through “regional” before Warren stumbled on “probably.”
That opened the door for Stark, who spelled it right and then claimed the win with “science.”
“When I got the word wrong, I was like, ‘Oh, I’m going to get out,’ but then she didn’t spell it right, so then ‘probably,’ I knew that word, so I knew that I could get it,” he said. “Then ‘science,’ I’ve learned that word from science in school.”
Stark said he also competed in the spelling bee at the fair last year, but he didn’t make it as far as he did this year.
“I was really nervous, actually,” he said. “It was because last year, I got a word wrong, and I wasn’t really happy with it, so I came back this year and tried my hardest.”
Walking away with a plaque, a certificate, a medal and some candy made the win even sweeter.
“I felt really shocked at the end,” Stark said. “It means a lot to me, and my parents are probably really proud of me.”
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43rd annual Jackson County Spelling Bee
Third grade: Treyton Cox, Brownstown Elementary School, first; Mason Williams, Immanuel Lutheran School, second; Emmalyn Sipes, Emerson Elementary School, third
Fourth grade: Ayden Stark, Emerson Elementary School, first; Marley Warren, Lutheran Central School, second; Jude Howard, Crothersville Elementary School, third
Fifth grade: Dayton Smith, Seymour-Redding Elementary School, first; Sawyer Smith, Cortland Elementary School, second; Jordyn Davis, Seymour-Redding Elementary School, third