Winner celebrates twice in one day
By By MIKE VOSS, Contributing Editor
Marie Richardson gave herself a nice present for her 13th birthday Saturday – winning the 11th-annual Downeast Spelling Bee.
The student at C.M. Eppes Middle School in Greenville correctly spelled inaugural in the 13th round to upset two-time defending champion Kristina Michelle Fondren from Carteret Academy in Morehead City. First, Marie correctly spelled tanager to advance to her winning word.
Kristina was tripped up by mausoleum. She spelled the word this way: mosoleum.
Richardson said she did not know Fondren had won the spelling bee in 2002 and 2001.
"I found out when I got here and looked at the program," Marie said.
That knowledge intimidated her, Marie said.
"She was really good," the winner said about Fondren.
Marie said she prepared for the spelling bee by studying lists of words about an hour twice a week.
Marie's parents are Ed and Kristin Richardson.
Asked if she though her daughter had a realistic chance to win the spelling bee, Kristin Richardson said, "To be perfectly honest, no."
Marie said her favorite academic subjects are math and social studies. She has not yet decided on a potential career.
Kristina said she felt pressure trying to win her third regional title in a row. She said she will miss not returning to Washington, D.C., for the 76th-annual Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee, which is set for May 25-30.
"I made a lot of friends there," she explained.
Kristina said she prepared for the spelling bee by "looking at a list" three or four times and reading "a lot of Latin."
"I didn't get any Latin words," she noted.
At one point during the spelling bee, one of the participants was given tetrahedral to spell.
She looked over at Joseph Klotz, the pronouncer, and said, "Are you sure you want to give me that one?"
The audience erupted with laughter.
The spelling bee was sponsored by PCS Phosphate and the Washington Daily News.
For winning the Downeast Spelling Bee, Marie receives an all-expenses-paid trip for her and a chaperone to the Scripps-Howard National Spelling Bee; a copy of "Webster's Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged;" the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, a $100 Series EE U.S. Savings Bond from Jay Sugarman; a Bee Week 2002 T-shirt and a Scripps-Howard Spelling Ace T-shirt, both from Scripps-Howard. Runner-up Kristina receives a copy of "Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Tenth Edition," a Scripps-Howard gift certificate for a Spelling Ace watch and two Spelling Ace T-shirts from Scripps-Howard. Third-place finisher Victoria Wagner, a student from E.J. Hayes Elementary School, receives two Spelling Ace T-shirts and a fanny pack from Scripps-Howard.
The spelling bee drew about 80 participants from schools in Eastern North Carolina.
The judges were Cornell McGill, assistant division chief of community corrections; Curtis Ormond, communications specialist for PCS Phosphate; and Ray McKeithan, general manager for the Daily News.
Ross Smith, manager of public affairs for PCS Phosphate, served as the emcee. John Morgan, retired register of deeds for Beaufort County, served as recorder.