14-Year-Old Captures 3rd Straight State Spelling Bee Championship


Julia_Dennis.jpgBy Special to the Daily World
This was one of the longest bees in recent history, one worthy of a 50th anniversary with over 300 words through 42 rounds. That’s how long it took 14-year-old Julia Denniss from The Marist School in Fulton County to best her 19 other competitors and win the 50th Annual Georgia Association of Educators State Spelling Bee. Julia, Georgia’s first three-time winner will now represent the state in the Scripps National Spelling Bee Championships in Washington, D.C., June 1-2, 2011.

In the 22nd round it was narrowed down to Julia and 12-year-old Simola Nayak from Henderson Middle School in DeKalb County. They battled back and forth with words such as gambado, sapiential, edacious, hoydenish, ineradicable and macropterous until the 41st round. That’s when Simola received the word “bombardier,” but she spelled it incorrectly. The word was then given to Julia who spelled it correctly and then, according the rules when it’s down to two contestants, was given a new word which must be spelled correctly. She was given the word “planisphere,” which she carefully spelled correctly to become the state’s spelling champion once again.

Julia tried to restrain her enthusiasm to no avail. “I am immensely relieved at reaching my goal of winning for a third time,” she said. She gave kudos to Simola saying, “This was a well fought bee. Simola was very challenging and very good.” On preparing for the nationals for the third time she said she will now know more words and try to represent Georgia with as much grace as she can. Should Julia be unable to represent Georgia at the nationals, Simola would take her place.

“This being my first state championship, I am absolutely astounded with what these young people have accomplished,” said GAE President Calvine Rollins. “On behalf of GAE, I congratulate each and every one of them as well as their parents, teachers, coaches, and everyone else who helped them make it to this point. And we of course wish the best of luck to her family as they travel to Washington to bring the national championship to Georgia.”

In addition to her first-place trophy and an all-expense-paid trip to the national championship and $1,000 (GAE), Julia also took home a 3G Kindle and $100 Amazon gift card (Horace Mann Insurance Companies), a dictionary (Merriam-Webster), an Amazon.com gift certificate (Scripps National Spelling Bee), a one-year online subscription (Encyclopedia Britannica), and one $100 U.S. Savings Bond (Samuel L. Sugarman Award). Sarah, as runner-up, took home a second-place trophy and $500 (GAE), a 3G Kindle and $50 Amazon gift card (Horace Mann Insurance Companies), a dictionary (Merriam-Webster), and a one-year online subscription (Encyclopedia Britannica). All contestants received $25, a certificate of participation, and a GAE State Bee lapel pin.

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