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Best At Bee

Everyone else had been eliminated, and 12-year-old BransenAinsworth stood alone before the microphone. The word was readaloud, and the West Lincoln sixth-grader made short work of it.

“Retrospective: R-E-T-R-O-S-P-E-C-T-I-V-E. Retrospective,” hesaid.

The judges held up their signs marked, “yes,” and Bransen wasthe winner of the 2011 Lincoln County District Spelling Bee, heldTuesday night at Lipsey School. After defeating six other spellersfrom other schools in the county, he’s on to the MississippiSpelling Bee on March 15 in Jackson.

Bransen isn’t sure he’ll study for the statewide match. Heclaims not to have studied a lick for the county spelling bee.

“That’s the way to go,” he said.

Bransen’s mother, Robin Ainsworth, said Bible drills at NewProspect Baptist Church prepared her son for being onstage in frontof a crowd. But that’s his only experience.

“This is the only thing he’s ever done like this,” she said.

Tuesday night’s competition was quick.

Bogue Chitto’s Hannah Newman and Brookhaven Academy’s BryeFoster fell in the first round, and Brookhaven Elementary’s BrockWells went down in round two when he misspelled “flotilla.”Lipsey’s Mya Newton and Loyd Star’s Anna Cooper were retired inround four when “newfangled” and “dross” were missed.

Alexander Junior High School’s James Green finished in secondplace after the fifth round when he misspelled “stoic.” To win,Bransen advanced to round six alone and dealt with”retrospective.”

A spell-off for third place between Mya Newton and Anna Cooperwent four rounds before a winner was determined. They missed”stucco” and “futon” in the first round, then correctly spelled”magnolia” and “geothermal” in the second. Mya hit on “democracy”in round three, but Anna missed “antibiotic.”

In the fourth round, Mya stood alone and spelled “confetti” tosecure third place.

Around 70 people sat and stood in the old gym at Lipsey Tuesdaynight to witness the spelling bee, a record crowd to witness whatis – though small – a very important event, said Lipsey PrincipalRob McCreary.

“Spelling in America is a lost art,” he said. “Spell-check andtexting have ruined us. Between those, America can’t spell.”

McCreary said competing on the stage at the spelling bee alsoteaches young spellers how to handle themselves in the spotlightand how to deal with pressure. It’s also an intense form ofcompetition for students who may not be suited for sports.

“Everyone has a gift, and some people’s gift is spelling,” hesaid.