Elberta Elementary student to defend Spelling Bee crown


LOXLEY, Alabama — Elberta Elementary sixth grader Jessi Dade will return to the stage on Tuesday, Feb. 4 to defend her Baldwin County Spelling Bee crown at the Loxley Civic Center.

Kristin Lamotte, Elementary Curriculum Supervisor for Baldwin County Schools, coordinator for this year’s spelling bee, confirmed Monday that Dade with compete, along with 32 other qualifiers, which includes students from Baldwin County’s elementary, intermediate and middle public schools, and several area private schools.

Competitors will earn the right to advance in competition to compete at the state level March 21 in Birmingham. After being sponsored the past several years by Adventure Travel, this year’s state competition will be sponsored by the Alabama Kiwanis Foundation.

If successful, Dade will become the second student in the last four years to represent Elberta schools as a repeat champion. Elberta Middle School student Fletcher Ard successfully defended his 2016 title in 2017. Before that, Bay Minette’s Isabella Eleongo won the crown in 2013 and 2014.

If she continues her success, Dade also has a chance to equal the fete of four-time champion Andrew Williams, who won the crown in 2008, then won three in a row from 2010-2012.

“We are proud to have her back in this year’s competition,” Lamotte said, “as we are proud of all of our competitors.”

Classroom winners from around the county competed for the right to represent their schools at the county competition.

Other qualifiers include:

Markel Griffin, Bay Minette Elementary; Kennedi Hurst, Bay Minette Middle; Jeffrey Johnson, Bayshore Christian; Isabelle Rutland, Bayside Academy; Ethan Brock, Central Baldwin Middle; Londyn Naquin, Central Christian; Aidan Silver, Daphne East Elementary; Carter Fraley, Daphne Middle; Parker Howard, Elberta Middle; Adalyn Lyles, Elsanor School; Ava Wenzel, Fairhope Elementary; Taylor Scott, Fairhope Intermediate; Meredith Bates, Fairhope Middle; Isabel Jimanez-Reyes, Foley Elementary; Adan Tamayo, Foley Intermediate; Patrik Kopp, Foley Middle; Hampton Howard, Gulf Shores Elementary; Jack Miller, J. Larry Newton; Annastin Langham, Magnolia School; Dallion Blake, Orange Beach Elementary; Carley New, Perdido Elementary/Middle; Johnny Rodriquez, Pine Grove Elementary; Joshua Jack Lachlan Courson, Robertsdale Elementary; Jayden Zakutney, Rosinton School; Matthew Manning, Silverhill Elementary; Lucy Horn, Spanish Fort Elementary; Elysa Nelson, Spanish Fort Middle; Jacob Murphy, Stapleton School; Fin Pierce, Summerdale School; Thomas Valenzuela, Swift Consolidated; and Virginia Sulkosky, W.J. Carroll School.

Baldwin County’s Catholic Schools compete with Mobile County schools in district competition to qualify for the state bee and are not included with the other schools.

Winners from state competition advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee which will be held during Bee Week beginning Memorial Day, May 24 and continuing through May 29 Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, near Washington, D.C. The exact date of the Spelling Bee will be posted at spellingbee.com after May 1.

The nationally televised event is sponsored by the G.W. Scripps Company, based in Cincinnati. Its website lists winners dating back to 1925.