Zhu wins third district spelling title

Published 10:26 am Sunday, March 22, 2009

By Staff
John Small’s Mayo is a finalist
Lifestyles &Features Editor
Students from Greenville, La Grange and Washington were the top three finalists in Saturday’s 17th annual Downeast Regional Spelling Bee, held at Washington High School.
Winning the title of “best speller” for a third time was Mayee Zhu, a 13-year-old student at Hope Middle School in Greenville.
Zhu clinched the title in Round 20 by correctly spelling the word “sorghum,” but she confided that “mossery” nearly tripped her up in an earlier round.
Winning the district event means Zhu will make a third trip — all expenses paid — to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which draws several hundred contestants. She lasted into the fourth round at last year’s competition.
Nicole Robinson, a 12-year-old student at E.B. Frink Middle School in La Grange, finished second. She was eliminated after misspelling the word “gluttony.”
Robinson admitted she was “nervous and anxious” during her third trip to the district spelling bee. She has one more year of eligibility before she ages out, and she said she is already planning to return in 2010.
One of Beaufort County’s representatives took third place in the spelling bee.
Isabella Mayo, an 11-year-old student at John Small Elementary School in Washington, hung in for several rounds as one of the last three standing. She bowed out in Round 18 after missing the word “firmament.”
But the youngster said she wasn’t disappointed with her showing, since this was the first year she participated.
Saturday’s event drew 53 champion spellers from Beaufort, Bertie, Carteret, Craven, Dare, Hyde, Jones, Lenoir, Martin, Pamlico, Pitt, Tyrrell and Washington counties. The bee was sponsored by the Washington Daily News and PCS Phosphate.
Ray McKeithan, Daily News’ general manager/associate publisher, welcomed students and supporters gathered for the competition.
Dave Jordan of WITN-TV 7 pronounced the words for contestants and Cornell McGill and Curtis Ormond judged the rounds. Michelle Vaught, PCS Phosphate public affairs manager, was the emcee for the event and recorder was John Morgan. Lou Firth of the Daily News coordinated the bee.
Cutline for corresponding photo: Isabella Mayo captured third place in the 17th annual Downeast North Carolina Regional Spelling Bee held Saturday at Washington High School. Behind her are eventual winner Mayee Zhu, in red, and second-place winner Nicole Robinson, far left. The spelling bee was sponsored by the Washington Daily News and PCS Phosphate. (WDN Photo/Paul Dunn)