AVON — Laughter erupted throughout the Avon Middle School gymnasium as Bruce Van Dyke revealed the final word during the 34th annual spelling bee.
After correctly spelling “precedent,” Midview Middle School eighth-grader Josh Prunty, 14, was given the word “hoomalimali” to spell. The Hawaiian word is a noun meaning the art or device of persuasion or flattery.
Before stepping up to the microphone, Josh turned his head and laughed, his shoulders shaking.
“I thought I was going to say a letter wrong because I was laughing,” Josh said after being declared the winner of the first preliminary spelling bee.
Getting to the final round wasn’t easy.
The final three spellers — Josh, along with Emelie Ojukwu of First Baptist Christian School and Renee Clippinger of South Amherst Middle School — all eighth-graders, received 35 words to spell.
In the end, it came down to Josh and Emelie, who both had been top spellers in previous bees. The two boys spelled 20 words during the final round.
Josh, the son of John and Leah Prunty, studied under the direction of Midview Middle School spelling bee adviser Lisa Simpson. Emelie, 13, the son of Mbanefo and Ifeoma Ojukwu, studied with adviser Bonnie Parker.
“I had high hopes for Josh this year,” Simpson said, standing by him as they each held a trophy.
This year, 36 seventh- and eighth-grade students represented the 11 schools in the Chronicle-Telegram readership area.
The 34th annual spelling bee is sponsored by the Educational Service Center of Lorain County and The Chronicle.
The second preliminary bee will be 7 p.m. Friday at Avon Middle School on Long Road.
The final 16 spellers from Friday night’s bee will go head-to-head with the final 16 from the upcoming bee.
The final bee will be 7 p.m. March 24 at the same location, where the finalist will be announced and chosen to represent the Educational Service Center Region 2 and The Chronicle at the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee Competitions the week of May 29 in Washington, D.C.