Mountain Gap student successfully defends title at Madison County Spelling Bee


Erin Howard, wearing the plaid shirt, successfully defended her title at the Madison County Spelling Bee on Feb. 7, 2017. (Courtney Crown/WHNT News 19)

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – The Kiwanis Club of Huntsville sponsored the annual Madison County Spelling Bee on Tuesday morning at the Randolph School Thurber Arts Center. Winners from both public and private schools competed in this local competition.

Among the spellers was Mountain Gap P-8 student Erin Howard, who represented Alabama last year in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. To be a champion, Howard said it takes a lot of time commitment.

“Almost every day of the week, especially on weekends cause I don’t have school to mess my schedule up, I normally try to study at least an hour every day at this level,” Howard said. “At least two to three hours when I study for the National Spelling Bee every day.”

Howard, a sixth grader, said she wants to go to Harvard someday and study medicine. She would like to be a pediatrician.

From the local spelling bee, the winning student moves on to the state competition next month. The winner from that competition goes on to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Let’s get to the competition already!

Tuesday’s Spelling Bee went 30 rounds! Justice Bright, a seventh grader at Westminster Christian Academy, finished third.  He made it to Round 20 but was eliminated when he misspelled the word ‘ephemeral.’

Then it was down to two, Erin Howard and Ian Burch.  They went back and forth for another 10 rounds.  Burch, a sixth grader at Hampton Cove, unfortunately misspelled the word ‘girder.’

Howard spelled ‘declarative’ correctly and won the event!

The event is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Huntsville and Adventure Travel. Susan McDougal has coordinated the event for 15 years and said the focus is to help all children shine.

This year, 33 students participated from public, private and parochial schools.  The youngest was a third grader from Highlands Elementary, and the oldest competitors were in eighth grade.

McDougal also coordinates the Alabama Spelling Bee through Adventure Travel. The event is March 11 in Birmingham. Erin Howard will advance to compete with the top speller from each Alabama county.  The state winner advances to Scripps.

“Adventure Travel has been sponsoring the State Spelling Bee for eight years,” said McDougal.  “We need to support literacy. Anybody can practice good spelling and good vocabulary. All you have to have is access to read.”