An avid reader like Becca Willis comes across a lot of words in her travels through fiction.
The Apalachicola Bay Charter School sixth grader took full advantage of her familiarity with language at the Dec. 13 district spelling bee.
In a battle that went several rounds, Willis and ABC School seventh grader Savannah Montgomery traded correct spellings blow for blow.
Willis enjoyed “gelato;” Montgomery followed by bee-ing “inimitable.”
The two fumbled on “jitney” and “depilatory,” but then went on a tear.
Willis spelled “protuberant,” Montgomery scaled “fabulist.”
Willis was correctly “polymathic,” and Montgomery rocked with “malachite.”
Willis was precise with “artifice,” and Montgomery continued the battle with “cadre.”
Willis was beaming when she got “incandescence,” and Montgomery smiled faintly with “nuance.”
Eventually, Willis spelled correctly “miasma,” and then the championship word “opulent” to outlast her opponent.
She now heads to the Big Bend Regional Spelling Bee Feb. 9 in Tallahassee, which brings together district winners from 15 counties in North Florida and South Georgia.
“I read a lot, a lot of bigger books,” she said, citing Harry Potter and “Lightning Thief,” part of a fantasy-adventure novel series based on Greek mythology, by Rick Riordan.
“I read a lot fiction, and some nonfiction, like books based on a true story,” said Willis. “I enjoy reading, whenever I have free time or right before I go to sleep.”
Willis said she is now enjoying the book “I Am Number Four,” a young adult science fiction novel by Pittacus Lore, the authors James Frey and Jobie Hughes.
She also is reading John Grisham’s latest young adult work, “Theodore Boone – The Abduction,” which may end up cutting into her sleep time.
“I did that with the ‘Hunger Games’ series,” she said. “I stayed up way past my bedtime just to finish the book.”
Also taking part in the bee, from the Franklin County School, were fourth grade winner Camille Davis and alternate Brycin Huckeba; fifth grader winner Jace Faircloth and alternate K.T. Nessly; sixth grade winner Makenzie Shuman and alternate Jessica Rudd; seventh grade winner Josie Kriss and alternate Sarah Gibbs; and eighth grade winner Nick Barwick and alternate Antonio Gallegos.
Competing for the ABC School were fourth grade winners Clint Rester and Devon Daniels; fifth graders Cade Juno and Allysa Robinson; sixth graders Scout McLemore and Willis; seventh graders Christian Amison and Montgomery; and eight graders Jayla Alley and Austin McKee.
The bee was under the direction of Franklin County language arts teacher Callie Nichols, with Liz Sisung ably handling the task of reciting the words. She holds a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech and math, and taught math for 14 years.
Serving as judges were Caty Greene, the librarian at the Apalachicola Municipal Library, Susan Clementson, a retired school librarian; and David Adlerstein, city editor of the Apalachicola Times.