After an hour of written exams and 20 minutes of oral competition, it all came down to a matter of efficiency.
That was the final word Alison Scheiderer, an eighth-grader at South Junior High, had to spell to win the Douglas County Spelling Bee, which was held Saturday morning at St. John's School, 1208 Ky.
Alison and seven other finalists advanced past a field of about 80 Douglas County students in grades five through eight by getting the highest scores in the written round of the competition. The top two scorers in each grade went on to the oral competition.
Six finalists were eliminated after three rounds in the oral competition, leaving Alison and runner-up Loren Saunders, a seventh-grader at Central Junior High, vying for the top honors. Alison gave the first incorrect answer, and Loren took the advantage by correctly spelling the word "mischievous". Alison said that at that point she thought she would lose.
"I was just rushing through the last part of the word and I put that `e' on the end of it," she said. "I was pretty sure it would be over."
However, Loren followed his correct answer with an incorrect spelling of "harassment". Alison won the contest by correctly spelling that word and "efficiency" back-to-back.
She will advance to the All-Kansas Spelling Bee, which will be April 3 at Washburn University in Topeka, to compete against other county winners. The winner of the state spelling bee will go on to the National Spelling Bee, which will be June 2-3 in Washington, D.C.
The other finalists in the county spelling bee were: Sarah Swan, New York elementary fifth-grader; Cassandra Hilpman, Hillcrest elementary fifth-grader; Richard Zerwekh, Deerfield elementary sixth-grader; Jose Espinosa, Schwegler elementary sixth-grader; Hana Takusagawa, West Junior High seventh-grader; and Alli Walbridge, Baldwin Junior High eighth-grader.