One hundred and nineteen words through six rounds. That’s how long it took 12-year-old Julia Denniss, a Dunwoody area resident from St. Jude the Apostle in Fulton County to best her 19 other competitors and go on to become the winner of the 48th Annual Georgia Association of Educators State Spelling Bee held on March 20th at Georgia State University's Student Center. She will now represent Georgia in the Scripps National Spelling Bee Championships in Washington, D.C., May 24-30.
Late in the sixth round it was narrowed down to Julia and 14-year-old Sarah Landman from Bremen Middle School in Bremen City. Sarah went first and was given the word “erythromycin,” but she spelled it with an “a’ rather than an “e.” The word was then given to Julia who spelled it correctly and then, according the rules when it’s down to two contestants, was given a new word which must be spelled correctly. She received the word “concatenate,” which she enthusiastically spelled correctly to become the state’s new spelling champion. The sixth round proved to be the one that began weeding out the contestants with words such as olivaceous, breviloquent, pentapody, helioatry and fructiferous.
Julia tried to restrain her enthusiasm to no avail. “I’m just so excited and happy to be going to Washington [D.C.] for the nationals,” she said. She said she will continue to prepare the same way for the nationals and that includes her mom, a medical doctor, helping her with “medical words.” That help definitely came in handy this time around. Should Julia, for any reason, be unable to represent Georgia at the nationals, Sarah would take her place.
“I can’t say enough about what these young people have accomplished,” said GAE President Jeff Hubbard. “Everyone associated with their efforts should be very proud and on behalf of GAE I congratulate each and every one of them. And our thoughts and prayers are with Julia and her family as they travel to Washington to represent Georgia and hopefully bring back the national championship.”
In addition to her first place trophy and an all expense paid trip to the national championship and $400 (GAE), Julia also took home a dictionary (Merriam-Webster), an Amazon.com gift certificate (Scripps National Spelling Bee), a one-year online subscription (Encyclopaedia Britannica), and one $100 U.S. Savings Bond (Samuel L. Sugarman Award). Sarah, as runner-up, took home a second place trophy, $100 (GAE), a dictionary (Merriam-Webster), and a one-year online subscription (Encyclopaedia Britannica). All contestants received $25, a certificate of participation, and a GAE State Bee lapel pin.