Passion for reading takes speller to top

Adriana Carter and Denise Luong finished first and second at the Charleston County School District Spelling Bee, held at Burke High School Thursday night. Wade Spees/Staff January 22, 2015

An eighth-grader who out-spelled 39 other top spellers from around Charleston County on Thursday night credited practice and love a reading with helping her beat out her competition.

“I read a lot, first of all,” said Charleston County School of the Arts student Adriana Carter. “And I’ve always been a good speller.”

But in the weeks leading up to the Charleston County School District’s spelling bee, Adriana said she buckled down and studied lists of words, typing each word and then looking up their definitions and annunciations in the dictionary.

Then her mother, Annalee Carter, quizzed her over several weekends.

That effort paid off.

“I felt like I knew the words,” Adriana said.

Her father, Ken Carter, said his daughter has always been a voracious reader, which he thinks may have helped give her an edge.

“She’s not a bookworm,” he said. “She’s a book snake. She devours them.”

Adriana was among the oldest students at the spelling bee, which was for students in grades five through eight. The competition went on for 20 rounds, and Adriana kept calm and focused on each word she was given. When it came down to the final two rounds, she won by correctly spelling “malediction” and then “abhorrently.”

Denise Luong, a seventh-grader at C.E. Williams Middle School, finished second. Third place went to last year’s winner Emory Naylor, a sixth-grader at Fort Johnson Middle School, while Shreyas Mytri, a sixth-grader at Moultrie Middle School, finished fourth. Each of the top four got a trophy.

Adriana, Denise and Emory dominated the event, battling it out for six rounds. The trio nailed words such as “gnathonic,” “romaji,” “braggadocio,” and “hartebeest.”

The top 18 spellers from Thursday’s competition will join the top spellers from Berkeley and Dorchester counties for Spellbound! on March 12 at Charleston Southern University. The winner of Spellbound! will go on to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. The Post and Courier is a sponsor of the regional bee.