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Alyssa DiBella Wins Watauga Schools Spelling Bee

WCS Spelling Bee winner Alyssa DiBella and runner up Zachary Holtkamp.

Oct. 12, 2012. Alyssa DiBella, a sixth grader at Bethel Elementary, has won the Watauga County Schools Spelling Bee for 2012-13.  Her win marks the second time in the last three years that the district’s champion speller has come from Bethel, the smallest school in the WCS system.

Her winning word was “ecstatic,” an appropriate final word for a person becoming a champion. The runner up in this year’s competition was Zachary Holtkamp of Blowing Rock School.

In addition to DiBella and Holtkamp, the school winners participating in the 2012-13 Spelling Bee included Caitlin Vines from Cove Creek, Erin Griego from Green Valley, Rebecca Anderson from Hardin Park, Benjamon Oakes from Mabel, Katie Hanna from Parkway, and Morgan Hoyt from Valle Crucis. 

Each school’s champion advanced to the WCS finals of the Spelling Bee after winning the competition among 4th through 8th grade students at their school. Four of this year’s school winners are eighth graders and three – Rebecca Anderson, Katie Hanna, and Benjamon Oakes -are fifth graders, while WCS champion Alyssa DiBella is in sixth grade.

In his welcoming remarks for the Spelling Bee, Superintendent Dr. David Kafitz said “it’s nice to know good spelling is alive and well in our schools” and told the contestants that “you are already champions in our minds.”   Assistant Superintendent Dr. David Fonseca then introduced each school champion, their principal, and the person who coordinated the Spelling Bee at their school before reviewing the rules of the competition.

WCS Human Resources Director Dr. Stephen Martin served as the pronouncer for the event.  The panel of judges included Board of Education Chair Deborah Miller, Boone Area Chamber of Commerce President/CEO Dr. Dan Meyer, and Title I Reading Teacher Kim Bentley.

From left on front row: Alyssa DiBella, Rebecca Anderson and Katie Hanna. From left on back row: Caitlin Vines, Zachary Holtkamp, Benjamon Oakes, Erin Griego and Morgan Hoyt.

The sponsors of the Watauga County Schools Spelling Bee for 2012-13 included Appalachian State University Basketball, the Boone Area Chamber of Commerce, Boone Bowling Center, Chick-fil-A, Come Back Shack, Hardee’s of Boone, Harris Teeter, High Country Bank, Marble Slab Creamery, the Mast Store Candy Barrel, Michaels of Boone, Sweet Frog Yogurt, Tweetsie Railroad, and Wendy’s.  The Boone Area Chamber of Commerce played a special role in helping arrange the donations from other sponsors, and the generous support of these sponsors allowed each classroom winner and runner up to receive multiple prizes.  School winners and the county champion received extra rewards, including $25 checks from High Country Bank for each school winner and a $50 check for the WCS champion.

Behind the scenes, Meredith Jones, director of middle and secondary education for WCS, worked with Spelling Bee coordinators at each school to help ensure the competitions ran smoothly from start to finish.

The next round of competition for the WCS winner will be the regional competition in Winston Salem in March.

The tradition of the Watauga County Schools Spelling Bee extends back to at least 1960.