9-year-old Deerfield student overcomes nerves, wins Douglas County Spelling Bee

photo by: Elvyn Jones

Charlie Maples, a fifth grader at Deerfield Elementary School, shows off the trophy he received for winning the Douglas County Spelling Bee. The bee was Saturday, Feb. 1, 2020, at Southwest Middle School.

After accepting the first-place trophy for the 2020 Douglas County Spelling Bee, Charlie Maples said winning the annual contest wasn’t his only notable accomplishment Saturday on the stage at Southwest Middle School.

“I also set a personal heart-rate record of 247,” the Deerfield Elementary School fifth grader told the crowd.

The county bee, sponsored by the Lawrence Journal-World, drew 28 elementary and middle school students from schools in Lawrence, Baldwin City and Eudora.

In the auditorium hallway after the bee, Charlie said he didn’t actually know his heart rate during the bee but wanted to share some humor with the crowd. He did admit he was nervous.

“I could feel my heart going boom, boom,” he said. “I was shaking really bad.”

Charlie overcame his nerves and won the bee when he correctly spelled “luminaria,” after second-place finisher Isaac Perrins, of Langston Hughes Elementary, misspelled “memoir.”

“It’s funny because luminaria comes from Latin,” Charlie said. “My gifted program at school just added Latin.”

As a 9-year-old, he wasn’t expected to win the bee, Charlie said. He won through a studying routine of an hour a week in recent months and then taking the time to memorize the spelling of all the words he missed in practice, he said.

The winner’s father, Ben Maples, said he wasn’t surprised that Charlie won.

“He’s incredible,” he said. “He started reading before he was 2.”

Charlie will now compete in the state spelling bee March 21 on the Newman University campus in Wichita. As runner-up, Perrins will compete in the state bee if Charlie is unable to attend.

“The only reason I won’t attend is if I’m sick,” Charlie said, noting he has an aunt in Wichita who told him she would attend the state bee if he were a contestant.

Other contestants in the bee were Ryder Hoobler, Baldwin Intermediate Center; Daphne Constable, Baldwin Junior High; Yousef Alsamiri, Billy Mills Middle School; Eliza Brockhoff, Bishop Seabury Academy; Drake Herrin, Broken Arrow Elementary; Felix Smith, Cordley Elementary; Olivia Batterman, Corpus Christi Catholic School; Johnathon Kuntz, Eudora Elementary; Max Nokes, Eudora Middle School; Sienna Miner, Hillcrest Elementary; Cash Lewis, Kennedy Elementary; Damaris LaFleur, Lawrence Virtual School; Olive Minor, Liberty Memorial Central Middle School; Flynn Isaacs, New York Elementary; Evie MacFarland, Pinckney Elementary; Chelsea Oparaji, Prairie Park Elementary; Grace Christline, Quail Run Elementary; Chloe Hannings, Raintree Montessori; Tessa Vancil, Schwegler Elementary; Brooks Bischmann, Southwest Middle School; Ceci Bennett, St. John Catholic School; Hannah Kohart, Sunflower Elementary; Isabelle Stewart, Sunset Hill Elementary; Graysen Jackson, Veritas Christian School; Hannah Lee Stone, West Middle School; and Angelica Schwindt, Woodlawn Elementary.


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