Elise Ellington, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Clarksdale’s W.A. Higgins Academy, competed against 40 of her peers in a statewide spelling bee for the second time at the Mississippi Public Broadcasting Studio in Jackson on Tuesday.
The spelling bee consisted of third- through eighth-graders from different counties in Mississippi and Ellington finished toward the middle of the pack.
She spelled five words correctly, saying her easiest word was “sonata.” She was eliminated after misspelling chintz as “chinse.”
“I’ve had a great experience,” said Ellington, who was competing in the statewide bee for a second time.
“I’m pretty sure anybody in their future endeavors coming into the spelling bee in elementary school needs to study hard and try to make it far. They just need to hold their head high and not cry. Just be proud of themselves for what they did.”
Ellington said she was upset after being eliminated, but took it in stride.
“Everybody congratulated me and I congratulated them,” she said. “I was saying, ‘Good luck.’”
Ellington said, when she did not know how to spell a word, she took her best guess.
“I came here with a very high head and I kept on thinking to myself, ‘just try, try, try hard,’” she said.
Ellington said the contestants were also asked the meaning of words in a multiple-choice format. She was asked what macaroni was and correctly answered that it was a type of pasta.
Yolanda Ni won the 2019 Mississippi Spelling Bee. She is an eighth-grade student at Oak Grove Middle School in the Lamar County School District. She spelled the word “apothecary” for the win.
Ellington qualified for the statewide spelling bee after winning the Clarksdale Municipal School District competition at Clarksdale High School on Feb. 14.
Charles Henley from W.A. Higgins Academy finished in second place in the county bee, while Jacourius Booker from Booker T. Washington Elementary School came in third.
Other competitors in the county spelling bee were Shakayla Banks from Kirkpatrick Elementary School, Jayla Peterson and Khi'ryn Powell from Heidelberg Elementary School, Olivia Morgan and Keyshawn Stokes from George H. Oliver Elementary School, Rachel Thornton and Bram Harris from St. Elizabeth Catholic School, Miracle Smith from Booker T. Washington Elementary School, and Elijah Tinner and Myla Walker from Oakhurst Intermediate Academy.
Ellington also won the W.A. Higgins Academy spelling bee.
“The other two, they had really easy words,” Ellington said of the W.A. Higgins Academy and county spelling bees. “Once you went up to here, they had a mix of easy and difficult words.”
She hopes her spelling bee days are not done.
“I would love to make it to the high school competition next year,” Ellington said. “I really would.”
Most of Ellington’s grades are As and Bs and she plans to major in something dealing with technology and computers in college.
She would like to earn her higher education close to home at Coahoma Community College or Delta State University.
Whatever path Ellington takes, she understands the need to spell well.
“I really want to be something in the engineering and computer program career,” she said.
“With computer programming, you really have to type and you don’t want to mess up for a client or anything. You need to make sure you type really well and right.”