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Published: Wednesday, 5/25/2011

Whiteford 8th grader breaks 30-year drought

Student is 1st since 1981 to win spelling bee

Whiteford Middle School student Zachary Ott, 14, holds up his trophy after winning the Monroe County Spelling Bee. Whiteford Middle School student Zachary Ott, 14, holds up his trophy after winning the Monroe County Spelling Bee.
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MONROE -- Zachary Ott accomplished what no other Whiteford Middle School student has been able to do in 30 years: win the Monroe County Spelling Bee.

The eighth grader correctly spelled "sedentary" after four others misspelled the word and then breezed through "colossal" to capture the contest held last week at the Monroe County Intermediate School District.

Zachary, 14, of Ottawa Lake, said neither word intimidated him when announced by the moderator.

"I was positive I knew how to spell 'sedentary,' " he said.

When "colossal" was given to him for the win, Zachary said, his confidence grew larger.

"I couldn't stop smiling," he said.

"No matter what word I got I took my time and pictured the word in front of me as if I was looking at it on paper."

Cheering Zachary in the audience were his parents, Christy and Tim Ott, and brother, Lucas, 11, who is a fifth grader at Whiteford Elementary.

The four-way tie for runner up was broken when Meghan Beaubien, 12, of St. Charles Catholic School near Newport, aced "perdition" after Christian Lucas of Holy Ghost Lutheran in Monroe failed to get it right. She finished off "motley" to place second.

Rounding out the top 10 were Jackson Hoffman, Mason Central Elementary; Olivia Reed, New Bedford Academy; Noah LaRoy, Triumph Academy; Alexis McCarroll, Bedford Junior High; Kiera Malone, St. Michael's; Olivia Soter, St. Mary; and Keegan Vitucci, Douglas Road Elementary.

Zachary said he was nervous during the opening round of the spelling bee, but gradually relaxed after a couple of rounds.

"Once I spelled a couple of words, my anxiety just went away. I didn't feel nervous," he said.

Zachary worked his way to the county championship after besting sixth, seventh, and eighth graders in the school spelling bee, which included the top 10 finishers from each grade level.

To prepare for last week's contest, Zachary said, he practiced at home for several weeks, focusing on a dictionary Web site that was recommended by the school district. As champion, Zachary received a trophy, medal, certificate, and $25 gift card from Target.

He said he has not decided what he will buy with the card.

Shannon Henry, lead teacher for Whiteford Schools, said Zachary is the first student from the district since 1981 to win the county spelling bee.

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