It took two words associated with sickness and ugliness, but after 13 rounds ABC sixth grader Avery Pharr has secured the crown as district spelling champ.

Pharr, 12, correctly spelled the word “bilious,” (meaning affected by or associated with nausea or vomiting) and then nailed the word “grotesque,” (meaning comically or repulsively ugly or distorted) to edge out Franklin County seventh grader Alondra Jimenez, herself a former district champ, at the Jan. 12 competition in the high school media center, overseen by Franklin County language arts teacher Callie Nichols.

“It was really nerve-wracking, it was really close,” said Pharr, “Everyone put in so much effort.”

Pharr, daughter of Dr. Ryan and Dawn Pharr, of Apalachicola, now heads to the regional bee on Saturday, Feb. 17 in Tallahassee, hoping to earn a berth in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

“I’m going to study,” she said. “When I have the time.”

An avid reader, Pharr said she prefers adventure books, fiction mostly, such as Rick Riordan's Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, where Greek demigods who are living in modern times have to battle monsters. And of course the Harry Potter series.

She said she’s also been enjoying World War II books, such as “Code Talker,” a novel about the Navajo Marines. “They’re about just how people have lived in that period and how they survived,” she said.

Pharr also likes to read science books, in keeping with her aspiration to become a veterinarian.

“Sometimes I’ll read about weather,” she said. “Usually I read right before I go to sleep, and then just whenever I have some free time at home.

“I like math and science so I figured the medical field would be good and I like animals, so I figured that would be a good combination,” she said.

Also taking part in the bee from Franklin County were fourth graders Stephen Enfinger and Shaelyn Fowler, fifth graders Jasmine Gray and Reshard Robinson, sixth graders William Chipman and Onamae Millender, seventh grader Samantha Anderson, and eighth graders Bradley Burch and Sydney Shuman.

ABC School students who took part in the district bee included fourth graders Talen Scott and Owen Juno, fifth graders Kirsten Barron and Finley Pharr, sixth grader Alex Sterling, seventh graders Kaiden Faison and London Scarabin, and eighth graders Jamal Robinson and Tate Stanley.