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Hall County student places fifth in state spelling bee
South Hall Middle School seventh-grader Parker Ramey gets words of encouragement Friday from his former fifth-grade teacher Michael Boyle before participating in the 49th annual State Spelling Bee held by the Georgia Association of Educators at Georgia State University in Atlanta. Parker, a three-time Hall County Spelling Bee Champion, placed fifth in the state bee. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

For the second year in a row, Hall County seventh-grader Parker Ramey has proven he is one of the state’s top spellers.

On Friday, he beat out 15 other district winners to place fifth in the Georgia Association of Educator’s State Spelling Bee.

After successfully spelling words like “raconteur,” “soliloquy” and “ipecac,” Parker was eventually eliminated for misspelling “protanopia,” a form of color blindness characterized by the inability to see red.

“It was just one of those words that are really difficult to spell,” Parker said.

Even though the South Hall Middle School student didn’t win the champion speller title, he did surpass his performance last year when he came in seventh.

“Sitting in the audience is gut wrenching — I think I was more nervous than he was,” said Hank Ramey, Parker’s dad, during a break in the competition. “He’s facing really tough competition — no matter what happens, we are really proud of him.”

To prepare for the competition, Parker took a trip off the beaten path of traditional vocabulary words.

“He says the more arcane the word, the better. He’s a voracious reader, and that has really helped him out a lot,” Ramey said. “He tends to notice unusual words more than the average person, and he tries to work them into his schoolwork. His vocabulary is far more extensive than most middle school students.”

Following multiple rounds in a competition that officials say was one of the longest on record, Oconee County middle school student Noah Weinrich and Fulton County middle school student Julia Denniss were the last of the 20 contestants left standing. Both students had previously competed in the state bee.

After Noah misspelled “pansit,” Julia was declared the winner after successfully spelling the missed word plus “conjunctivitis.” She will represent Georgia in the national spelling bee in Washington D.C.

Although he didn’t win this time around, Parker isn’t discouraged. He said he’s optimistic about his upcoming eighth-grade year, which is the last year he’ll be eligible to compete.

“I plan to come back next year,” Parker said. “And hopefully I’ll win it.”