Ashlyn Sims a Farragut Middle School sixth-grader, is the winner of FMS’ schoolwide spelling bee while Alexander Tan, a seventh-grader, is runner up.
Sims turned around and her jaw dropped, during FMS’ annual schoolwide spelling bee at FMS on Jan. 26, when the spelling bee announcer nodded, indicating the 11-year-old spelled the final words, “portico” and “vertex” correctly.
Those correct spellings put Ashlyn, 11, as the 2016 winner, launching her to compete in the News Sentinel Southern Appalachia Regional Spelling Bee, which took place on The University of Tennessee campus March 12.
“It feels good,” Ashlyn said about winning. “I won [the school spelling bee] last year, and I was hoping I would win again this year because my teacher [Nicole Thorley] last year was really excited. Her son, Will, used to be in spelling bees, but he doesn’t do it anymore. I was hoping to carry on for her son.”
At the regional level, Ashlyn was in the last 30s to go down, Mayer said. Ashlyn is the daughter of Mark and Crissy Sims and the granddaughter of Gerry and Brenda Miles, Beverly Miles of Knoxville and Nathan Sims of Louisiana.
“I couldn’t be prouder of my baby,” Mark Sims said.
Crissy Sims said she was happy about her daughter’s win but stressed.
“She went to regionals last year and I was so stressed out,” the mother said.
Alexander, the 12-year-old son of Lizhen Tan and Ying Yang, said being runner-up was “nice.”
“It is a great honor to have a student representing our school each year at the regional bee, Sarah Mayer, eighth-grade English-Lan-guage Arts teacher and spelling bee co-organizer and judge, said.
“We at FMS strive for excellence in every area, so it is wonderful to see one of our students carry that outside the school walls to show what we can do.”
This year’s bee at FHS took 15 rounds to get to the final two but ended earlier than in years past, Mayer said.
“I think the kids were really focused this year,” she said. “They were very quiet and did what they were supposed to do. They were quicker with pronunciations and spellings.”
Ashlyn and Alexander were two of 19 students who competed this year at FMS, Mayer, who coordinated the bee with Chez Betz, literacy coach and testing coordinator, said.
“All ELA teachers selected one student from each class, usually through a class spelling bee and a pole of those who wanted to participate, to complete in the written portion,” Mayer said.
“The top performers from each grade were selected.”
“This year there are nine sixth graders, five seventh graders, and five eighth graders.
Students from all across East Tennessee competed in the regional bee.
The regional competitors completed a written spelling bee portion that consisted of 20 words pronounced on a video in a classroom, Mayer said.