Thompson touts small government

Bailey Koozer,7, and her sister (right) Taylor Koozer,7 greet Fred Thompson outside Perkins Restaurant in North Charleston along with their father Kevin Koozer after Thompson's morning talk with supporters Saturday. "My dad is helping Fred Thompson be P

River Oaks Middle School sixth-grader Cassidy Etue correctly spelled "Flemish" on Thursday to win the Dorchester District 2 Spelling Bee, outlasting 49 other finalists in the competition at Knightsville Elementary School.

The runner-up was Jayce Rutelonis, a Beech Hill Elementary fifth-grader, who misspelled the word "ramen."

"It's kind of funny because we just had ramen noodles in stir fry the other night," his mother, Ami Rutelonis, said after the competition.

After Jayce, 11, spelled the word as "rammon," Cassidy spelled it correctly and then spelled the next word, "Flemish," for the win.

"I've been studying a bunch of German words, so I never thought I'd win on the word 'Flemish,' " she said, adding that she and her dad, Dan Mazurek, studied together for six hours on Wednesday.

Early rounds saw students spell "timorously" and "circumlocution" correctly and "chutney" and "typhoon" wrong.

The competition was not without a bit of controversy: Four finalists - Cassidy; Jayce; Jackson Mutispaugh of Rollings Middle School of the Arts; and De'Andre Venning of River Oaks Middle School -- made it to round 7, where Jackson was eliminated after judges thought he misspelled "elite." However, after reviewing the audio recording, it was decided that he was correct.

"We thought he said 'E-L-I-D-E,'" said school board member Gail Hughes, who was a judge along with fellow school board member Charlie Stoudenmire and district elementary science interventionist Kelly Shroder. "When we listened to the tape, it was 'T.' Sometimes when they spell fast it can be hard to understand."

De'Andre misspelled "fiery" in the next round to finish in fourth. Jackson was eliminated on "paddock" in round 11.

The top nine finishers will advance to the March 22 Spellbound!, the Lowcountry's regional spelling bee, sponsored by The Post and Courier.

They are (in order of finish): Cassidy, Jayce, Jackson, De'Andre, Michael Toohey of DuBose Middle School; Courtney Thompson of Knightsville Elementary School; Joshua Meyers of Eagle Nest Elementary; Andy Messersmith of Windsor Hill Arts Infused Magnet School; and Alexis Davis of Rollings Middle School of the Arts.

The competition will be held at 7 p.m. March 22 at Lightsey Chapel at Charleston Southern University and will include 50 finalists representing Charleston, Berkeley, Dorchester 2, Dorchester 4, Colleton County, Lowcountry Catholic Schools, the South Carolina Independent School Association, Lowcountry Home and Private Schools, and the South Carolina Public Charter School District.

The winner of Spellbound! will get an all-expenses-paid trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which is May 27 through June 1 in Washington, D.C.

Reach Brenda Rindge at 937-5713 or on Facebook.