Four Delaware students heading to spelling bee


Four students from Delaware City Schools will be heading to Ohio University next week to compete in the Scripps College of Communication Regional Spelling Bee.

The students are Carlisle Elementary school fourth-grader, Joya Austin; Schultz Elementary fifth-grader, Natalia Hisle; Smith Elementary fifth-grader Eric Gitson; and Dempsey Middle School seventh-grader Hallie Wright.

In order to qualify for the competition they had to win their school’s individual spelling bees and then had to complete a computer exam about spelling and vocabulary.

The four students will be part of just 50 students competing in the regional competition.

“I’m nervicited,” joked Hallie Wright. Wright said she has been practicing for the spelling bee with her friends and family and said she gets extra practice unintentionally because she reads so much.

“I read a lot. A lot,” Wright said. “My friends and boyfriend help me cram, but a day or two before I just lay low to not stress myself out.”

Joya Austin said last week that she didn’t actually want do compete at first but was encouraged to try it by her parents.

“I’m really glad I participated!” Austin said. “I was doubting myself but then I ended up winning [the school spelling bee.]”

Austin says she practices for the spelling bee using an app that says words out loud and she has to correctly spell them.

Natalia Hisle said she is also nervous, but excited for the competition. Hisle said she has been practicing with flash cards and by studying words used at recent spelling bees.

This will be the third spelling bee for Eric Gitson, but his excitement has not waned in the two years since his first spelling bee competition in 2015.

Gitson said Wednesday that he tied for eighth place in 2015 and tied for fourth place last year.

“I’m a little bit nervous but I really hope I win,” Gitson said. Gitson represented Delaware City Schools by himself for the last two years and said he was very happy that the district had a spelling bee at every elementary school because it means that more kids get to compete.

“I have to give thanks to the school district for having spelling bees at every school,” Gitson said. Gitson also thanked the aides at Willis Education Center for all their help and wanted to thank sixth grade principal Heidi Kegley for overseeing the spelling bees at all the elementary schools and Dempsey.

“I hope [other Delaware students] do well but I really want to win,” Gitson said Wednesday with a laugh.

Gitson’s mother, Cassie Prodanova, also praised the district staff who helped with the spelling bee.

“They did all that work for free,” Prodanova said. “They put in extra time and effort for their students and without them the students would never have this opportunity.”

Prodanova also said the spelling bee is extra special for Gitson because it falls one day before his birthday and said he has postponed his birthday celebration so he can go to the spelling bee.

The competition will begin at 9 a.m. on March 18 at Ohio University in Athens, Ohio according to the event’s website.

Eric Gitson with his certificates and shirt from his last two spelling bees. Gitson tied for eighth in 2015 and tied for fourth in 2016. Gitson with his certificates and shirt from his last two spelling bees. Gitson tied for eighth in 2015 and tied for fourth in 2016.

Joya Austin Austin

Hallie Wright Wright

Natalia Hisle Hisle

By Glenn Battishill

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Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.

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