CHAT Academy student wins countywide spelling bee

Published 12:00 am Sunday, February 12, 2006

The Selma Times-Journal

Justin Baker, an eighth grader at Selma Middle CHAT Academy, won this year’s countywide spelling bee at the Selma-Dallas County Public Library Friday morning.

Baker’s winning word – “Synthesize, s-y-n-t-h-e-s-i-z-e, synthesize.”

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Baker was awarded a $700 savings bond and a $350 cash prize.

“I’m surprised,” Baker said. “The most I expected to get was third place.”

Baker will go on to compete in the statewide spelling bee in Birmingham.

Martin Middle School student Andrea Washington came in second and Tipton Middle School student Artasha Hobbs took third place. Washington received a $500 savings bond and a $250 cash prize. Hobbs received a $300 savings bond and a $150 cash prize.

Sponsored by the Selma Kiwanis Club, the spelling bee mirrors the organization’s motto – Children first.

This year’s panel of judges were local author and historian Alston Fitts, Cahaba Mental Health Center Executive Director Patricia Martin and educational consultant Carrie Grider.

Dallas County School Public Information Coordinator Bill Sellier was the word pronouncer. Before the competition began, Sellier gave the 31 young contestants a few words of encouragement.

“You’re the best,” Sellier said. “Don’t be nervous about this because you’ve worked hard to get here.”

County Coordinator Zella Haywood said the students gave a competitive showing and thanked the community for its support.

“Thank you for sharing in the success of our children,” she said. “They are winners.”