Dillon Middle School students win top honors at spelling bee

Wednesday, March 4, 2020
Dillon Middle School students win top honors at spelling bee

Spell-checked Dillon Middle School sixth grader Hadley Browning is this year’s Beaverhead County Spelling Bee champion. She will compete at the state match in Bozeman March 14. The runner up this year is Dillon Middle School eighth grader Jesse McKay. Casey S. Elliott photo


With that one word, Dillon Middle School sixth grader Hadley Browning took the Beaverhead County Spelling Bee championship crown Wednesday.

“I’m excited – and slightly terrified,” she said, as she looked ahead to the state competition next month.

Browning, a sixth-grader and newcomer to Dillon Middle School, won the Belgrade spelling bee in the past before coming to town. Browning and runner-up DMS eighth grader Jesse McKay battled back and forth in rounds 7-9, with both spelling the words correctly – or incorrectly, keeping the competition going.

McKay stumbled with the spelling of “fondant” (as “fondent”) in Round 9; Browning’s correct spelling of “hermitage” put her on the line to win. By official Spelling Bee rules, Browning needed to spell an additional word correctly, or they would continue to go head-to-head until one prevailed.

Browning calmly made it through “bohemian,” flashing a smile as wide as Queen’s Freddie Mercury at the win.

Twenty total students across Beaverhead County competed in this year’s bee, held Feb. 26, with proud (and nervous) parents and teachers watching. Participants ranged from grades four to eight, with some coming back for a second – or even third – try for the top seat.

The bee experienced a momentary hiccup in Round 2, when Lima Elementary eighth grader Madelin Young spelled “dawdle” as its homonym (or more accurately, homophone) “doddle.” A brief discussion by the three judges ruled Young be given a new word, as the word pronouncer did not clarify dawdle had a near-homonym when asked for definitions and examples. Young spelled “quack” accurately, but was knocked out of competition in the next round, misspelling “calzone.”

Rounds 3 and 4 claimed five competitors each. The most common pitfall came from leaving out a letter, or substituting a different letter for the correct one. Words such as “flabbergast” and “firmament” tripped up a couple of contestants; others sailed past “balderdash” and “buffoonery” without much pause.

The fifth round knocked out two hopefuls, and the sixth three, leaving McKay and Browning in the remaining rounds. Dillon Middle School students Laura Martin, Ellie Sherwood and Aubrey Hawley rounded out the top five for the county.

The 2020 Treasure State Spelling Bee will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday, March 14 in Bozeman. The winners at the state bee head to the national final, to be held May 24-29 in Maryland, according to the Scripps spelling bee website.