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Lyendecker uses d-r-a-s-t-i-c means to claim win
Countywide Spelling Bee Winners.jpg
Warren County Spelling Bee competitors from schools throughout the county are, from left, Kaiden Heathcock, 13, first-place winner Brian Lyendecker, 13, Ashlynn Graves, 10, Emma Dillon, 12, and Ruby Denning, 11.

An eighth-grader at Warren County Middle School worded his way into winning his first Warren County Spelling Bee. 

First-place winner Brian Lyendecker, 13, an eighth-grader at Warren County Middle School, conquered the word “drastic,” gaining him the title.

“I’m good at spelling, but this is the first year I’ve ever competed in a spelling bee,” says Brian.

Five young individuals exhibited their spelling skills, with the first-place winner receiving a Chromebook and the chance to represent Warren County in the regional spelling bee. 

Students from five of the eight county elementary and middle schools competed Tuesday at Hickory Creek Elementary.

One overall winner between grades 4-8 from each school was selected to compete Tuesday. Three of the schools were not a part of the countywide spelling bee. 

Representing their schools in the finals were Kaiden Heathcock, 13, from Dibrell, Brian Lyendecker, 13 from WCMS, Ashlynn Graves, 10, from Irving College, Emma Dillon, 12, from Centertown and Ruby Denning, 11, from Hickory Creek.

“You could tell all of them were very well-prepared and had studied a great deal,” says Centertown teacher and spelling bee volunteer Kim Curtis. “Some of these kids don’t play a sport so this is their time to shine.”

In second place was Ashlynn, Emma placed third, Ruby placed fourth and Kaiden was fifth. All competitors put in valiant efforts and tackled several impressive words. 

“Disinfectant” was the word that wiped out Ashlynn, while “barrier” is what stopped Emma in her tracks. 

The regional spelling bee is the News Sentinel Southern Appalachia Regional Spelling Bee in Knoxville on March 14. 

“It feels really good to be the winner,” says Brian. “I hope if I make it past state I can make Tennessee proud in the national competition.”

The prize for this year’s first place winner was a Chromebook and backpack. None of the participants knew about the grand prize until the night of the competition.

“I wasn’t expecting to receive a prize. I was just excited to go to state,” says Brian. “I was happy about winning the prize, but it wasn’t the Chromebook I was really aiming for. It was the fact this was my first spelling bee, and I really wanted to make everyone proud.”

Brian studied nightly with his parents since receiving the two lists of official Scripps Spelling Bee words in mid-January.

“My parents were worried because although I studied, we knew there would be other kids here who had studied and would try their hardest as well,” says Brian. “I respect the hard work everyone put in. At state, I hope to learn some more words I didn’t know because I’ve certainly learned a lot for this one.”

“I was very excited and proud of him,” adds Brian’s teacher, Joanna Carden. “He came straight up to me this morning to tell me had won, so I know he was also really excited.”

If Brian wins the regional spelling bee in March, he will go to Washington to represent Tennessee in national competition, which will first involve completing a written spelling bee. If the written exam is passed, participants will be called on stage to compete in the verbal spelling bee.