By Nancy Lindsey
The Patrick County Spelling Bee took an unprecedented 15 rounds Thursday night before Zane Hollandsworth earned the championship trophy for 2016.
Before that, 14 students who won or placed in their school spelling bees in six elementary schools and Patrick County High School tackled words ranging from the tricky to the exotic.
Words like: nasal, sushi, linseed, wiki-wiki, nightingale, xylophone, sitzmark, panzer, mizzle, quesadilla, vendetta, polder, clapboard, diatribe, pampas, rupee, praline, caucus, and—the winning word, galleria—challenged the students from start to finish.
Nerves were evident as the kids moved to the podium at the PCHS auditorium and participated in an traditional spelling bee, one almost identical to those in the school days of their grandparents and great-grandparents.
In the end, the competition came down to a war of wits (and phonetics and concentration), with the top three spellers going back and forth until only one was remaining as the champion.
Zane, the winner, is a seventh-grade student at Woolwine Elementary School. He is the son of Dale and Shelley Hollandsworth and plans a career in a science-related field.
Zane will represent Patrick County in the Winston-Salem (N.C.) Journal Spelling Bee on his potential path to the national competition.
Coming in second was Olivia Cassell, who represented Stuart Elementary School.
Placing third was Lindsey Jones, a student at Hardin Reynolds Memorial School.
The other contestants who participated were: Jasmine Bowman and Gina Rubio of Blue Ridge Elementary School; Tessa Haas, Jordan Haas and Jordan Rorrer of Meadows of Dan Elementary School; Kyle Campbell, Taylor Hopkins and Jacob Wood of PCHS; Olivia Cassell and Lauren Largen of Stuart Elementary School; and Lucian Goad and Bobbijo Roberts of Woolwine Elementary School.
Stephen Henderson, an English teacher at PCHS, was the moderator and pronouncer of the words to be spelled.
Andrea Cassell, instructional coordinator, organized the spelling bee.
Judges were retired teachers Paula Drady and Evelyn Hazelwood.
Dr. William Sroufe, division superintendent, presented the trophies.