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Posted: February 4, 2011 10:30 a.m.

Last year's bee runner up wins 2011 county spelling bee

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It was a prehistoric word that opened the way for victory at the 2011 Rockdale County Spelling Bee held at Edwards Memorial School Friday morning.

“Permian” (definition: of or relating to the last major division of the Paleozoic era) was misspelled by one letter by Davis Middle School eighth grader Sydney Whildon. Then Jazz Duncan, a sixth grader at Memorial Middle, stepped up to the microphone.

Duncan dispatched the word with ease, along with the winning word “geothermal.”

“I don’t think it was very hard,” said Jazz, of this year’s competition, “except one word: oscillation.”

She said she studies by reviewing the word lists and with the help of her siblings. “We test each other on words.”

Duncan, who was last year’s runner up, had beat out her older brother Jaire, an MMS eighth grader and the RCPS Bee champion for the last two years, in a tough battle to represent MMS at the county level.

“Jaire was a little traumatized when he lost,” said their father David. “This was his last opportunity.”

“They just got involved because they were helping (Jaire) to do it, and now everybody’s on board,” said their mother Heather. The Duncan family swept the top two spots at Memorial and Flat Shoals Elementary.

Zora, a soft-spoken fourth grader at Flat Shoals and the youngest of the five Duncan siblings, made it to the top three spellers this year in her first county bee, but misspelled the word “crochet.”

Runner up Whilden, who has been in the county bee for the last two years, said she studies by looking over lists of words and sometimes reading the dictionary. Her hardest word was “Permian” - “which I never heard before in my life,” she said.

“She’s very self directed,” said her mother, Ellen. “And she’s a big reader.”

Right before the final rounds, there was a moment of rule review when Duncan’s parents questioned whether the new rules in effect at some schools, where finalists are not given a chance to spell their opponent’s incorrect word and are only given a new word, were in place at the county level too. It was determined the county would continue with the existing rules, allowing for correction of an opponent’s word.

 Jazz will go on to compete in the district spelling bee on Feb. 26, 10 AM at Mundy’s Mill Middle School in Clayton County. The state spelling bee is on March 18, 11 a.m. at Georgia State University.

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(Feb. 4, 10:30 a.m.) This year's winner of the 2011 Rockdale County Spelling Bee is Jazz Duncan of Memorial Middle School. She was last year's runner up. The runner up this year is Sydney Whilden of Davis Middle School.

Check back to www.rockdalenews.com for the full story later.

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