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Sixth-grader wins Hall County’s spelling bee

Washington contest is 2-time victor’s goal

POSTED: February 10, 2009 11:29 p.m.

Super spellers

Watch Misty Hopwood, a South Hall Middle eighth-grader, duke it out against Parker Ramey, a C.W. Davis Middle sixth-grader, in the Hall County Spelling Bee at West Hall Middle School Tuesday.

SARA GUEVARA/The Times

Chestnut Mountain Elementary School fifth-grader Joshua Jones, 11, waits for his word from master of ceremony Kathy Lovett, retired Hall County teacher and wife of Lee Lovett, deputy superintendent of Hall County Schools, during Tuesday's Hall County Spelling Bee. Jones spelled his word, "mongrel" correctly.

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C.W. Davis Middle School sixth-grader Parker Ramey took home the Hall County Spelling Bee trophy Tuesday after correctly spelling the word "renegade."

Parker, son of Jones Elementary School Principal Hank Ramey, can add that trophy to his budding collection. He also won the Hall County Spelling Bee last year, when he correctly spelled "aristocracy."

"I hope this pattern continues, because if it does, by eighth grade, I will be going to Washington (for the national bee)," Parker said. "Washington’s my goal. It would just be a major accomplishment. When I’m going to college, I think it would look pretty good on my resume."

Parker and first runner-up Misty Hopwood, a South Hall Middle eighth-grader, and second runner-up Fernanda Arcaraz, a Chestatee Middle seventh-grader, took home titles after competing against more than 36 students Tuesday morning in the bee at West Hall Middle School. The nearly 40 elementary and middle school students represented the best orthographers of Hall County’s nearly 20,000 elementary and middle school students.

Misty and Parker will move on to the next round of competition at the Northeast Georgia spelling bee Feb. 28 at Collins Hill High School in Gwinnett County. Last year, Jonathan Casas, then an East Hall Middle School eighth-grader, represented Hall County all the way to the state spelling bee, where he placed sixth.

Hall County Deputy Superintendent Lee Lovett was a judge at the county bee Tuesday as his wife, former Hall County English teacher Kathy Lovett, read the words and their definitions to students.

"I was very impressed," he told students as he presented the awards. "I was thinking we might be here all day."

Students ranging from fourth grade to eighth grade were eligible for the county bee, and correctly spelled toughies like sputnik, graffiti and babushka. Others stumbled on words such as flamenco, toboggan, erudite and shogun, an old word referring to Japanese governors.

But it’s no coincidence Parker and Misty will be representing Hall County in the regional bee later this month. They had been studying for Tuesday’s spelling showdown.

Misty said in addition to taking ballet classes, she reads novels daily and plans to study words with her mom to prepare for the bee in Gwinnett.

"I’m going to have to study a lot," Misty said. "My mom will just flip through the dictionary and make me spell stuff, so that’s probably what I’ll do again."

Parker said his parents began reading to him when he was very young, and they now describe him as a "voracious reader."

"You will almost never see me without a book in my hand. I think that helps me a lot with my spelling," he said.

Parker said his parents and even his little brother helped him to prepare for the bee Tuesday. He said his parents have helped him to learn the spellings of words using tricks.

"Like begonia — mom begs for begonias. We do funny little things, and it sticks in his head," said Casey Ramey, Parker’s mother.

Hank Ramey, Parker’s father, said they look for opportunities to learn everywhere.

"We even find words on the menu when we’re at restaurants," he said.

Parker said he plans to resume his spelling studies in a few days.

"I’ll need a breather for a while," he said.

The Gainesville school system picked two champion spellers last month. Emmeline Jones, 10, a fifth-grader at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, was the top elementary school speller. Jhaiquashia Peterson, 14, an eighth-grader at Gainesville Middle School, was the top middle school speller and will represent Gainesville schools at the Feb. 28 regional spelling bee along with the Hall County winners.



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