Singing Hills speller on her way to state

Fifth-grader Tiffany Martin wins bee after challenge over word list

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 1/20/21

Students from Elizabeth Middle School, Running Creek Elementary and Singing Hills Elementary faced off in the district spelling bee Jan. 14 at Elizabeth High School. The top four spellers from each …

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Singing Hills speller on her way to state

Fifth-grader Tiffany Martin wins bee after challenge over word list

Posted

Students from Elizabeth Middle School, Running Creek Elementary and Singing Hills Elementary faced off in the district spelling bee Jan. 14 at Elizabeth High School. The top four spellers from each school competed for the chance to advance to the state level, during a socially distanced event, with audience members wearing facial coverings, and competitors only lowering their masks while spelling words at the microphone.

Students have been studying a list of 160 words they were given in December, and spellers held strong through the first 10 rounds of competition. During the 11th round students became more nervous and began making minor mistakes, with two competitors being eliminated for misspelling the words “opposite” and “instrument” incorrectly.

“There is a lot of nervousness tonight for this competition,” said Kristen Crookshanks, a parent volunteer who has organized the spelling bee for several years. “These kids study so hard, and it’s a little scary to get up on stage and compete. But they all do a really good job.”

In the 20th round, Tiffany Martin, a fifth-grader, was eliminated for spelling the word “corporate” incorrectly, leaving only two spellers standing. Emma Weis, a seventh-grader at Elizabeth Middle School, misspelled “dissuade,” and was eliminated. Landon Tobler, a fifth-grader at Singing Hills Elementary spelled his championship word “divulge” correctly, and was declared the winner.

However, Martin approached the judges and told them her word was not actually on the practice list. She was given the word “corporate” but the word listed on the practice sheet was actually “cooperate,” which she had spelled correctly. Judges reviewed the rules and determined that Martin was correct, and called the last three spellers back to the stage to compete again for a winner.

Weiss was eliminated in the 22nd round, and Martin and Tobler competed for another 12 rounds, spelling every word on the practice list they were given correctly, forcing the pronouncer to begin using words from an advanced list, none of which any of the spellers had seen prior to the competition.

In the 34th round, Tobler misspelled the word “fawn,” and Martin spelled the championship word “album” correctly, earning her the first-place spot for the spelling bee, and advancing her to the state competition.

“As long as you put your heart and mind to it you can do anything you set your mind to,” said Martin, after her win. “After I got out we started checking the word list, and when I knew my word wasn’t on the list I had to say something. I was nervous, but excited, because I knew one of us, either me or Landon, would get to go to state.”

Cmdr. Melvin Berghahn, with the Elizabeth Police Department, Shellie Scobee, with the Elizabeth School District, and Dave Tallent, a retired teacher from Elizabeth School District, served as judges for the competition. Martin will compete in the Denver Post Colorado State Spelling Bee at the University of Denver in March.

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