Morgan Sims wins Craighead County spelling bee

Thursday, February 12, 2009
Morgan Sims, Craighead County Spelling Bee Champion. (Town Crier photo/Revis Blaylock)

Morgan Sims, sixth grade student at Buffalo Island Central West, earned the title of 2009 Craighead County Spelling Bee champion. The event was held at Arkansas State University one week later than originally planned because of the ice storm.

It was Morgan's second appearance at the county level as she won first place in her school spelling bee in the fifth and sixth grades.

"I was disappointed last year," Morgan said. "I went to the second round but I got a hard word I did not know."

Morgan made it to the finish this year winning with the word "debacle." She also spelled "karate" and other words to get to the final round. She won the county title in the fourth round, one of the shortest rounds in the history of Craighead County spelling bees. A spell off was held with the next two competitors naming the second and third place winners.

Valley View student Elizabeth Kaffka won second place.

Morgan is in the gifted and talented program and is an all A student.

"Morgan is a naturally gifted speller and reads all of the time," Dr. Kima Stewart, director of elementary education at Buffalo Island Central, said.

Morgan's win gives Buffalo Island Central the recognition of winning back-to-back county spelling bees. Amber Rolland won the spelling bee last year during her eighth grade year.

Other spellers from Buffalo Island Central participating in the bee were Peyton Milligan and Alex Matheny, West elementary; Hannah Poe, Drew McFall and Courtney Davis, East elementary; and Clay Turner, Andrew Stone and Shaun Scoggins, junior high.

Morgan received a trophy and a $200 savings bond.

The spelling bee was video-taped and will be broadcast on Sudden Link Channel 18 at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10.

Morgan said the lights and the camera did not make her nervous.

Morgan is in Karen Wallace's home room.

"I have had very good teachers," Morgan said.

Morgan has been a student at Buffalo Island Central West since the second semester of her kindergarten year. She is the daughter of Randy and Rhonda Sims.

Karalee Gibson, spelling bee sponsor, accompanied the BIC students to the county spelling bee.

Unfortunately, Morgan will not be eligible to advance to the state competition because of a rule from Scripps National Spelling Bee implementing an up-front fee per building. Until last year there was no entry fee. Last year it was a per district fee and this year it was a per building fee.

"It was an error in judgment on adults," Dr. Stewart said. "It will not happen again. Several schools made the same decision to register their higher buildings. We made an error in judgment but we should have made sure every student was eligible. Morgan has been gracious and shown a lot of character. I know she is disappointed and we are disappointed for her. We are upset about it. The county committee is looking at moving the spelling bee date prior to the deadline of the Scripps National deadline for the fees."

Even if Morgan can't compete, she will have the opportunity to be at the state spelling bee.

"We are sending Morgan and her parents to the state competition," Dr. Stewart said. "My hope is she will learn from watching the process. She has two more years as a contender."

The state spelling bee is scheduled for Feb. 28 at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock.

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