Valley Grande student wins county spelling contest

Published 4:24 pm Saturday, February 11, 2017


That’s probably the word that first came to mind for Bailey Ross Friday when she outlasted a field of 23 students to win the Dallas County Spelling Bee. Ross, a sixth grader at Valley Grande Elementary School, has wanted a hoverboard for months and will finally have the money to buy one, thanks to the $400 prize she earned.

Ross spelled Fletcherism, which is defined by Marriam-Webster as the practice of eating in small amounts and only eating when hungry, to win the title over Keith Middle/High School’s Jamarion Blevins and School of Discovery’s Aniya Mitchell, who tied for second place and split $300.

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“I was like ‘oh my gosh’ I won it,” Ross said after she spelled her final word and realized she was county champion.

Two years ago, she had a close call in the county spelling bee. She finished second that year and in 2016 she finished third at Valley Grande’s spelling bee, meaning she missed the countywide competition by one spot.

This year she made sure to close the deal, but she admits she was nervous.

“When other people were spelling, I was like ‘I don’t know how to spell that word,” Ross said. “I hope I don’t get that word.”

As it turns out, she knew how to spell every word she was asked to.

She said she’s had the same packet of words the last three years, so she’s studied them inside and out. By now, she knows what it takes to be an elite speller.

“Just studying a lot and trying to know the definition and origin of them,” Ross said.

She’s an all-A student, having never earned a B even, and loves to read and play outside. Ross is registered to play softball this year and is also involved in 4H and the robotics program at school.

Ross will also soon be the owner of a new hoverboard, possibly even as soon as this weekend. Her parents, Kelly and Brent, were taking her shopping on Saturday.

“We’ll going to look for it today,” Kelly said. “It’s a very hot item, so we may have to order it or wait until they get it back in stock.”

Meanwhile, Bailey will turn her focus to the Alabama statewide spelling bee, which will be held in Alabaster on March 11.

After winning the competition in Dallas County, she’s confident about her chances.

“I feel like I’ve got it because I’ve studied a lot with other words,” Ross said.