Mayo takes spelling bee title — again

Published 8:02 pm Saturday, March 24, 2012

Spelling-bee winner Isabella Mayor (center) is flanked by Caroline Temple (second place) and Nate Gilliam after winning her second Downeast North Carolina Regional Spelling Bee on Saturday. (WDN Photo/Mike Voss)

Isabella Mayo correctly spelled “ameliorate” to win the 20th-annual Downeast North Carolina Regional Spelling Bee.

Her victory Saturday could indicate she took the meaning of the word to heart and mind. Ameliorate means to make better or improve upon. Seeing how she won the spelling bee in 2010, she made that accomplishment better by winning the 2012 spelling bee, which was held at Washington High School’s Performing Arts Center.

Isabella, a student at P.S. Jones Middle school, and Caroline Temple, a student at Ocracoke School, battled through several rounds. In the 17th round, Caroline misspelled “caballero,” the Spanish word for knight. Isabella correctly spelled “saboteur” to move on to the 18th round, in which she spelled the word that gave her the first-place trophy. If she had misspelled “ameliorate,” she and Caroline would have moved into a 19th round.

Isabella, a 14-year-old eighth-grader who’s participated in the spelling bee three times, said she knew the last word she was asked to spell.

“I did it in fifth and six grade, so they used pretty much the same list (of words). So, I studied a couple of days ago,” Isabella said after the spelling bee.

Isabella said she’s looking forward to competing in the upcoming 85th-annaul Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., later this spring. By winning the regional spelling bee, Isabella and a chaperone earned an all-expenses-paid trip to complete in that event.

Isabella is the daughter of Rob and Christa Mayo.

“A little bit,” replied Rob Mayo when asked how proud he is of his daughter.

“She studied a lot of lists (of words),” he noted.

“It was more stressful than I expected today,” he said of sitting through 10 rounds of spelling.

Nate Gilliam, a student at Newport Middle School, won a spell-off to take third place in the spelling bee.

Isabella’s other prizes include a Merriam-Webster Third New International Dictionary, a $100 Series EE U.S. savings bond, a one-year subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica Online, a $20 gift certificate, a $30 Wal-Mart gift card and a first-place trophy.

PotashCorp Aurora and the Washington Daily News sponsored the regional spelling bee.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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