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Gainesville picks two top spellers
Jhaiquashia Peterson, 14, an eighth-grader at Gainesville Middle School, won first place Friday in the Gainesville school system’s middle school spelling bee. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Spelling bee

What: Hall County school system spelling bee finals

When: 9 a.m. Feb. 10

Where: West Hall Middle School, 5470 McEver Road, Oakwood

Two Gainesville students came out on top after putting their orthographic skills to the test in the elementary and middle school district spelling bees.

Emmeline Jones, 10, a fifth-grader at Enota Multiple Intelligences Academy, proved to be the best speller of the Gainesville school system’s five elementary schools Friday. Jhaiquashia Peterson, 14, an eighth-grader at Gainesville Middle School, out-spelled 19 other middle school finalists Friday and will represent Gainesville schools at the regional spelling bee on Feb. 28 at Collins Hill High School in Suwanee.

The winner of the regional bee will participate in the state bee, where they will have a shot at representing Georgia in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May in Washington. The Louisville Courier-Journal started the event with nine contestants in 1925 and it has been held every year since, except from 1943-45 because of World War II.

As her peers dropped like flies, avid reader and tennis player Emmeline correctly spelled words like "diplomat," "topical" and "tissue." Then the judge doled out her final word: "panelist."

"I was like, ‘Oh, my gosh, if I don’t make this.’ ... I was nervous," Emmeline said.

But the 10-year-old aspiring doctor kept her cool, and spelled the world correctly to take home the Gainesville district’s elementary spelling bee trophy.

While Emmeline was thrilled to be selected by her language arts teacher to participate in the district bee, Jhaiquashia had a different take.

"I didn’t want to do it. I was scared," she said.

Jhaiquashia said the teacher who nominated her for the competition actually walked her to the spelling bee to make sure she didn’t chicken out.

The Hall County school system’s spelling bee will be held Feb. 10. The winner from that competition also will advance to the regional spelling bee.