Silverhill Elementary student crowned Baldwin County Spelling Bee champ in virtual competition


SILVERHILL, Alabama — Silverhill Elementary’ s Colt Jackson was crowned Baldwin County Spelling Bee champion in a virtual competition held recently.

Because of concerns over the Coronavirus, instead of the annual competition, held each year at the Loxley Civic Center, students were invited to log on to an online portal to compete for the opportunity to be crowned this year’s Spelling Bee Champ, said Kristin LaMotte, Elementary Curriculum Supervisor for Baldwin County Schools and coordinator of the annual spelling bee.

“It was definitely different this year,” she said, “but we were given guidance and training through the organization and were able to follow specific guidelines in order to crown a champion.”

Jackson, along with defending champion Jessi Dade, who represented Elberta Middle School after winning the crown two years in a row as a student at Elberta Elementary, joined 34 other qualifiers, an increase from 32 competitors a year ago.

Qualifiers include students from Baldwin County’s elementary, intermediate and middle public schools, including Baldwin County’s Virtual Elementary School, and several area private schools.

Jackson earned the right to compete at the state level, sponsored by the Alabama Kiwanis Foundation, which will be held virtually on March 21.

Last year, Dade became one of four students to repeat as champion over the last decade, joining fellow Elberta Middle School student Fletcher Ard (2016-17); Bay Minette’s Isabella Eleongo (2013-2014) and Andrew Williams, who competed as a student at Bay Minette Elementary, Robertsdale Elementary and Central Baldwin Middle, winning four titles, including three in a row from 2010-12.

The competition included classroom winners from around the county who competed for the right to represent their schools at the county competition.

Other qualifiers include:

James Owens III, Baldwin County Virtual Elementary School, Joshua Miller, Bay Minette Elementary; Keziah Bird, Bay Minette Middle; Jeffrey Johnson, Bayshore Christian; Forrest Smith, Bayside Academy; Anna Dillard, Belforest Elementary; Madison Duvall, Central Baldwin Middle; Ayden Lippincott, Central Christian; Ryland Vernor, Daphne East Elementary; Carter Fraley, Daphne Middle; Tanner Minchew, Delta Elementary; Abigail Hendrix, Elberta Elementary; Brayden Wilson, Elsanor School; Olivia Wilson Kaiser, Fairhope Elementary; Meredith Bates, Fairhope Middle; Isabel Jimanez-Reyes, Mathis Elementary; Tyler Lanier, Foley Middle; Madelyn Latapie, J. Larry Newton; Jayce Burch, Magnolia School; Temierlan Tolepov, Orange Beach Elementary; Chloe Gatlin, Perdido Elementary/Middle; Gracen Demko, Pine Grove Elementary; Caleb Lynch, Robertsdale Elementary; Anne Riley Williams, Rockwell Elementary, Chloe Ard, Rosinton School; Eliza Jane Lehrter, Spanish Fort Elementary; Eliza Jane Lehrter, Spanish Fort Middle; Emily Parker, Stapleton School; Kameron Kaylor, Summerdale School; Max Valenzuela, Swift Consolidated; and Gabe Mitchell, W.J. Carroll School.

Winners from state competition advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, scheduled for June 1-3 at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, near Washington, D.C.

The nationally televised event is sponsored by the G.W. Scripps Company, based in Cincinnati. Its website lists winners dating back to 1925. Last year’s competition was canceled because of the Coronavirus.