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Winners cast a spell at Gainesville bee
Gus Kaufman listens as his word is read aloud to him Friday afternoon during the Gainesville City Schools’ spelling bee at Gainesville Middle School.

For one day, Gainesville Middle School student Adeline Bryant got to spell victory as “A-S-Y-L-U-M.”

“Asylum” was her winning word at Friday’s annual spelling bee, after successfully outspelling 22 other middle school students in only six rounds.

“I feel really bad for all the kids who studied a lot, because I really don’t study that much,” the 12-year-old said. “I think it’s just because I read a lot of books. I consider myself to be very (well-read).”

The runner-up, Grayson Anderson, did just the opposite and studied “a lot” for the bee.

“I was really confident,” she said. “I knew if I tried hard, I’d make it.”

Earlier in the day, Gainesville Exploration Academy students swept the elementary school bee, with student Ayush Pant being named the winner. The runner-up, John Phan, is also a student at the school.

The elementary level was arguably more intense than middle school with Pant, 11, emerging as the champion only after 21 grueling rounds. His winning word was “bountiful.”

“I studied,” he said. “Except for the baby words, and the seventh- and eighth-grade words.”

Bryant moves on to the District 3 bee, joining Hall County representatives Carolina Santiago from West Hall Middle and Evelyn Kakarlamudi of Chestnut Mountain Elementary, against other spelling bee winners in the area March 1 in Winder. District winners go on to the state level for the chance to attend Scripps National Spelling Bee in May of this year.

While she may not have studied for the system-level bee, Bryant plans to hit the books during the next few weeks.

“My friend has this big, huge dictionary and a bunch of encyclopedias,” she said. “I’m probably going to ask to borrow some of them and look through all the words. And my dad and my brother and my sister are big spellers, so I’ll probably ask for their help in doing it.”