By Tim Leeds
Havre Middle School eighth-grader Joe Shelton came out on top of some fast and furious competition to win the 35th Annual Hill County Spelling Bee Tuesday.
Middle schoolers Jeremy Giardina, a seventh-grader, and eighth-grader Megan McAlpin, took second and third, respectively.
There were 70 competitors from schools throughout the county when the competition started at 9:30 a.m. at the middle school Assembly Room with the word "moderate." There were only 47 left at the beginning of the second round, and that dropped to 19 by the end of the round.
By the sixth round, only Shelton, McAlpin and Giardina were left. McAlpin missed on the word "vermiform," meaning resembling a worm in form and shape; Giardina missed on "speleologist," meaning an expert on the study and exploration of caves.
Shelton correctly spelled his next word, his second correct word in the finals match, to win the bee. He correctly spelled "dressage," meaning the art or method of training a horse in obedience and precision of movement.
Shelton's victory qualifies him to compete at the state bee, to be held in Missoula on Saturday, April 7. The winner of that competition will qualify to compete at the national bee in Washington later this year.
The top three winners all received trophies for their placement. Shelton received a trophy donated by the Havre Jaycees, and Giardina and McAlpin's trophies were from the the Office of the Hill County Superintendent of Schools.
The top ten winners at the bee all received hats, also from the superintendent's office, and all participants received certificates from Lee Newspapers of Montana, the sponsor of the state bee.
Bill Lisenby, master of ceremonies for the event, started things off with a welcome and introduction of the staff of the bee and the participants. Blue Sky teacher Pam Renaker, the pronouncer for the bee, started off with a practice round then went into the actual competition.
The judges for the event were Merilyn Hall, Paul Tuss and Leigh Stuart. Sue Wendland was the recording technician, and Hill County Superintendent Shirley Isbell was the director.