Foster a beneficiary of ‘b-e-n-e-f-a-c-t-o-r’

Monroe Ave. 5th grader wins county spelling bee

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photo gallery of all 11 contestants

HAMLET — There must be something in the water.

Josh Foster continued into at least the fourth consecutive year the streak the city of Hamlet ZIP codes have in producing the Richmond County Spelling Bee champion. The Monroe Avenue Elementary School fifth-grader won in the 15th and final round on Wednesday morning by spelling “benefactor” correctly, as presented to him by pronouncer Ruth Burgin.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Josh Foster spells "benefactor" correctly to win the Richmond County Spelling Bee on Wednesday at Richmond Community College.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Josh Foster spells “benefactor” correctly to win the Richmond County Spelling Bee on Wednesday at Richmond Community College.

Sterling Riddick represented Hamlet Middle School while winning three straight county bees. Foster beat out Hamlet Middle School’s Evan Baxley and Ellerbe Middle School’s Daleesia McDonald in the final rounds for the win. Foster advances to compete on Feb. 23 at Wachovia Playhouse in Charlotte in the annual Charlotte Observer Regional Spelling Bee.

School champions in the hot seat included: Xiomara Campos, of East Rockingham Elementary School; Daleesia McDonald, of Ellerbe Middle School; Nikolas Daughtrey, of Fairview Heights Elementary School; Evan Baxley, of Hamlet Middle School; Isabelle Honeycutt, of L.J. Bell Elementary School; Dexter Mabe, of Mineral Springs Elementary School; Josh Foster, of Monroe Avenue Elementary School; Lee Hayden, of Rockingham Middle School; Kristen Bagley, of Rohanen Middle School; Keandra Cagle, of Washington Street Elementary School; and Tyson Holloway, of West Rockingham Elementary School.

Foster said it was his first time participating in the spelling bee at the school or county levels.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Grandmother Jewel Oldham and sister Chloe Foster congratulate Josh for winning the county bee.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Grandmother Jewel Oldham and sister Chloe Foster congratulate Josh for winning the county bee.

The audience of more than 60 people inside the conference room in the Robert L. and Elizabeth S. Cole Auditorium at Richmond Community College jumped in applause for Foster and the 10 other competitors that started the 27-minute competition.

Dawn Terry, principal at Monroe Avenue Elementary School, credited Foster’s win due not to her school but his supportive family — including grandmother Jewel Oldham, parents Brent and Kristal Foster and Chloe, his younger sister and a third-grader at Monroe Avenue Elementary School.

“He has a wonderful family right here,” Terry said. “They’re just super people.”

Oldham said she wondered how her grandson would fare in the competition, which pits elementary and middle school students in the same division.

“I should never doubt him,” Oldman said.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Evan Baxley, of Hamlet Middle School, looks to Ruth Burgin for confirmation that he spelled his word correctly.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Evan Baxley, of Hamlet Middle School, looks to Ruth Burgin for confirmation that he spelled his word correctly.

To be sure, Foster himself had a few moments of worry. First of all, he didn’t spell every word correctly.

It was down to Foster, Baxley and McDonald after the first three rounds. All three contestants made it through rounds four and five unscathed. Then came the chair-gripping, breath-holding moments of Round 6.

McDonald, up first, received the word “begonia.” It was the first time in six tries that she asked Burgin for the definition. Unfortunately, it didn’t help and she misspelled it anyway. Down but not out, McDonald returned to her seat and hoped for the best.

Up next, Baxley received the word “dungaree” and erroneously put an “ie” at the end. He, too, sat down. Based on the rules as spelled out by Donna Gephart before the competition began, Foster knew that if he spelled his Round 6 word correctly, and a championship word, the win was is.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Daleesia McDonald, of Ellerbe Middle School, expels her anxiety by fiddling with her school bee champion medal.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Daleesia McDonald, of Ellerbe Middle School, expels her anxiety by fiddling with her school bee champion medal.

It wasn’t meant to be. At least, not yet. Foster handed “prosecute” easily enough but put an extra “n” in “cabana.” The mistake put all three spellers back in the competition for Round 8. There, McDonald erred on “biopsy” and Foster misspelled “parfait” while Baxley spelled “albatross” correctly.

It was Baxley’s win-it-all moment but, like Foster, it wasn’t meant to be. Bailey put an “illa” ending on “gondola” — a traditional, flat-bottomed Venetian rowing boat. Once again, all three contestants were back in the game.

Each competitor took Round 10 in stride — “contiguous” for McDonald, “cafeteria” for Baxley and “persimmon” for Foster. In Round 11, Baxley struck out on “semantics” when he began the word with a “c.” McDonald, with “confetti,” and Foster, with “haiku,” advanced through the next two rounds without harm.

In Round 14, McDonald was tripped up with “physique,” beginning the spelling with the phonetic “fa.” Foster, meanwhile, spelled “topography” correctly. He smiled when Burgin gave him “benefactor” as the possible winning word because, he said, he’d practiced that one at home.

Foster said “parfait” was likely the most difficult word he faced during the competition.

“I knew there was a silent ‘t’ in there somewhere,” Foster said.

Like any good speller, however, he used a few tricks to relate to certain words. In Round 10, “persimmon” reminded him of his reading teacher, Mrs. Simmons. In Round 11, “haiku” was easy because, Foster said, his uncle once wrote a haiku.

Foster will turn 11 on Feb. 22, the day before the regional bee in Charlotte. He has high hopes for what might be possible next month. He’ll have plenty of help at home, including sister Chloe. She said she reads the words to him and corrects him when she’s wrong.

Next year, Chloe said, she hopes to be in the school bee. The idea could pit the two siblings against each other should both advance to the county contest. If that scenario played out, would she still help him?

“Maybe,” she said after a moment’s pause.

Round by round results
* X = misspelled the word

 1 — Xiomara Campos, East Rockingham
2 — Daleesia McDonald, Ellerbe Middle
3 — Nikolas Daughtrey, Fairview Heights
4 — Evan Baxley, Hamlet Middle
5 — Isabelle Honeycutt, L.J. Bell
6 — Dexter Mabe, Mineral Springs
7 — Josh Foster, Monroe Avenue
8 — Lee Hayden, Rockingham Middle
9 — Kristen Bagley, Rohanen Middle
10 — Keandra Cagle, Washington Street
11 — Tyson Holloway, West Rockingham

Round 1
1 – easel
2 – average
3 – whirlpool – X
4 – ninja
5 – reckless
6 – mongoose – X
7 – deluxe
8 – walrus
9 – mohair – X
10 – anvil – X
11 – canary

Round 2
1 – magazine
2 – hustle
4 – barley
5 – orchard
7 – buffalo
8 – mermaid
11 – beige – X

Round 3
1 – necessary – X
2 – pragmatic
4 – discipline
5 – saxophone – X
7 – fiesta
8 – periscope – X

Round 4
2 – manicure
4 – bambino
7 – fidelity

Round 5
2 – ventilate
4 – typhoon
7 – finale

Round 6
2 – begonia – X
4 – dungaree – X
7 – prosecute

Round 7
7 – cabana – X

Round 8
2 – biopsy – X
4 – albatross
7 – parfait – X

Round 9 
4 – gondola – X

Round 10 
2 – contiguous
4 – cafeteria
7 – persimmon

Round 11
2 – confetti
4 – semantics – X
7 – haiku

Round 12
2 – expertise
7 – clementine

Round 13
2 – jaguar
7 – inferno

Round 14
2 – physique – X
7 – topography

Round 15
7 – benefactor

Filed in: Education, Featured News, Hamlet, Latest Headlines, News

You might like:

Students: Know your rights Students: Know your rights
Journalism ‘absolutely essential to a functioning democracy’ Journalism ‘absolutely essential to a functioning democracy’
Key to success: ‘You don’t keep everybody happy’ Key to success: ‘You don’t keep everybody happy’
Without quality news source, ‘all you have is that noise’ Without quality news source, ‘all you have is that noise’
© 2018 The Pee Dee Post. All rights reserved. XHTML / CSS Valid.