Tatum's Chavez wins inaugural East Texas Spelling Bee

Excelsior third-grader Mikayla Anderson takes second

CARTHAGE – There was no need for “condolences” for Allen Chavez, as the Tatum Middle School eighth-grader correctly spelled the word to win the inaugural Light and Champion East Texas Spelling Bee Thursday, March 1 at Panola College's Elizabeth R. Hedges Studio Theatre.

Chavez outlasted Excelsior School third-grader Mikayla Anderson to claim the title and earn a trip to the 91st Scripps National Spelling Bee May 29-31 in Washington, D.C.

“We are very excited to be able to send Allen Chavez to represent East Texas at the National Speling Bee,” said Steve Fountain, editor and publisher of The Light and Champion. “It was a great first competition and we look forward to this continuing to grow each year.”

The Light and Champion obtained the national spelling bee rights to Shelby, Panola and Rusk counties, as well as DeSoto Parish in Louisiana, allowing the local competition to send its winner directly to the national competition.

The Light and Champion extended invitations to all public and private school districts in those areas, asking for each to send four spellers each. Beckville Sunset Elementary School, Beckville Middle School, Center Elementary School, Excelsior Primary classes, Excelsior Elementary classes and Tatum Middle School sent spellers to the competition.

“We were very pleased with the support from the participating schools and with great job Panola College did in not only hosting this event, but in providing the bee caller and judges.”

Anderson and Chavez dueled head-to-head over the final four rounds after the field of 22 was whittled down.

Chavez correctly spelled “credible” in the eighth round, while Anderson misspelled “biopsy.”

Chavez then nailed “condolences” to wrap up the title.

Anderson will be the guest of the Center Noon Lion's Club at its meeting on Thursday, March 8 at the Windham Civic Center in Center.

Here's the lost on competitors:

• Beckville ISD: Hannah Hester, Aubrey Klinger, Jessie McAfee, Kerrin Crawford, Carlos Campos, River Rounsavall and Mason Sullivan.

• Center Elemetary School: Carter Tomlin, 3rd grade; Jarden Evans, 2nd grade; Madison Crawford, 3rd grade; Rihana Lane, 2nd grade.

• Excelsior Primary School: Brooklynn Scates, 2nd grade; Mikayla Anderson, 3rd grade; Isabella Gima, 3rd grade; Devin Warren, 3rd grade.

• Excelsior Elementary School: Jaquelyn Miles, 4th grade; Gracie Gillis, 4th grade; Victoria King, 5th grade.

• Tatum Middle School: Allen Chavez, 8th grade; Alex Mace, 7th grade; Emilio Zuniga, 8th grade; Trey Fite, 8th grade.