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Spelling showdown at Shell Beach Elementary School

Cooper Limon reacts in dismay after a calm and cool Emma Holt spells the final word to take the fourth-grade spelling bee title Thursday at Shell Beach Elementary.
Cooper Limon reacts in dismay after a calm and cool Emma Holt spells the final word to take the fourth-grade spelling bee title Thursday at Shell Beach Elementary. jjohnston@thetribunenews.com

Shell Beach Elementary School student Cooper Limon made it to the final round of the school’s second annual spelling bee, correctly spelling “hopeless,” “rescue,” “dictionary” and “induct” — the latter word drawing excited murmurs from the other students.

Then, he stepped up to the microphone and faced three judges, watched intensely by his classmates.

“C-o-n-v-o-e.”

Ding!

Head judge and Shell Beach Elementary Principal Debbie Schimandle rang the bell, signifying a misspelled word.

Cooper stepped back, and Emma Holt, the remaining contender, stepped up to the mike.

“C-o-n-v-o-y,” she said.

It was a correct spelling, but Emma wasn’t finished yet — she had to spell one additional word to win.

“D-e-v-o-i-d. Devoid,” Emma said, and with that became the champion of the fourth-grade bee — the second year in a row she’s won the title for her grade.

“I like anything that has to do with words,” Emma said after she’d collected her prizes: a medal, a board game and a dictionary.

“She does read a lot, kind of like that character, ‘Belle,’ from ‘Beauty and the Beast,’ ” said her father, Tim Holt. “I have to actually tell her to put the book down. Can you believe it?”

Cooper and Emma were two of 83 Shell Beach Elementary students from grades first through sixth selected as finalists to participate in Thursday’s bee.

Besides Schimandle, the other judges were Lucia Mar school district Superintendent Jim Hogeboom and Janet Weldon, assistant to the superintendent.

Before each grade’s bee began, parent and master of ceremonies Karen Mikuni reminded students to be proud of their accomplishments.

“This is icing on the cake,” she said. “We know you’re great spellers. No matter what happens, you’re going to walk out the door as great spellers.”

In the third-grade bee, students Sarah White, Tyler Leavens and Keyan Patel competed for the top three spots after 11 of their peers were knocked out of competition.

Sarah was stumped by “library,” and it was down to Tyler and Keyan.

Smiling, Tyler correctly spelled “vacation” before she added an extra “d” to “shadow.”

Keyan spelled it correctly, as well as the final word, “knife,” to win the grade’s bee for the second year in a row.

“My mom makes me study,” he said afterward, grinning.

Reach Cynthia Lambert at 781-7929. Stay updated by following @SouthCountyBeat on Twitter.

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