COLUMBIA, Mo. — Moniteau County schools were well represented at the second Columbia Missourian Regional Spelling Bee that pitted 54 area elementary and middle school students who had won first or second place at their individual spelling bees.
Students from eight Mid-Missouri counties, including Moniteau and Cooper, showed the University of Missouri audience at the March 13 event their superior vocabularies.
California eighth-grader Dillon Wood took first place at his school's spelling bee Feb. 6 by spelling the word "chloroform."
Since then, he said, he has studied daily to prepare. He said he wasn't nervous before the competition. Wood advanced to the second round before being eliminated after misspelling "benevolent."
Wood said he still had fun, but he won't miss the studying.
At the regional bee, students were told by speaker Katherine Reed the words at that level focused on memorization.
To prepare, students studied more than 1,100 words from the Scripps National Spelling Bee, the nation's oldest competition.
Among those studying the list of words was Prairie Home fifth-grader Dorothy Lock; she did it during her daily car ride. She said she studied two hours every day between the school spelling bee and the competition.
Her father, Ryan Lock, said the competition increased her study discipline.
She advanced to the third round, but was then eliminated. As she — and other spellers — were eliminated in the competition, they were visited by the "comfort bee," a friendly woman dressed in a bee costume who replaced their assigned entrant number with a participant medal.
Among other area students receiving medals were students from High Point and Tipton.
High Point elementary student Grant Calvrid, who took first place at his school's spelling bee, misspelled "magazine" in the first round at the regional contest.
Tipton elementary student Demarius Wallen, who took first place at his school's spelling bee for "Xanadu," advanced to the fourth round in the regional competition.
It was his first time on the college campus, and he admitted he was nervous after the second round.
"I think my favorite part is seeing all the other students," Wallen said. "It's cool other people try to go to the competition and come out at the top."
Mike Jenner, university journalism professor, said students took away a life skill from the event.
"Beyond becoming good spellers, the bee teaches students to face an audience and have the courage to compete and risk being wrong," Jenner said.
The winner of the competition, Neha Kodali from Columbia Independent School, moved on to the national bee.