ATLANTA --Two area middle schoolers fared well in the state spelling bee on Friday.
Jazz Duncan, a seventh-grader at Memorial Middle School in Conyers, made it to round 11 in the state's 51st annual spelling bee at Georgia State University in Atlanta, and Taylor Underwood, a sixth-grader at Providence Christian School in Oxford, made it to round nine.
"These kids are all winners," said Richard McIntyre, chair of the Georgia Association of Educators' Spelling Bee committee, about the 20 spellers competing in the Bee. "These kids learn so much to make them prepared for all of their academics. It's an indicator that they will go on to greater things."
Duncan, who was accompanied by her mom Heather, correctly spelled words like "klompen," "flense," "egregious," "douane" and "apparatchik." Underwood correctly spelled words like "alleviate," "bureaucracy," "egalitarian," "kohlrabi" and "charpoy."
Other students correctly spelled words like "oolong," "semolina," "contrapuntal," "bezoar," "fusillade," "gynarchy," "mukhtar," "cappelletti," "ghathonic" and "uitlander."
"People who put down spelling just don't understand," McIntyre said.
In round 11, Duncan incorrectly spelled the word immiserization.
Her mom protested because the caller initially mispronounced the word, but them corrected herself. McIntyre consulted with the judges, who decided since the pronunciation was corrected before she started spelling the word, there was no basis for the misspelling.
Heather Duncan said she feared that the caller would get Jazz out because she was mispronouncing words throughout the entire event.
However, "I think (Jazz) did good," she said of her performance.
Jazz Duncan said the competition was pretty easy and similar to last year, when she placed fourth.
"I still knew a lot of the words, even though some of them were mispronounced," said Duncan, who even corrected the caller once during the bee.
She said her fellow students were "pretty good," too.
Underwood, who was accompanied by her parents and grandparents, said the event started off easy but was progressively getting harder, especially after she was ousted in round nine, when she misspelled the word "peccadillo."
"I was really nervous at first," said Underwood, who had never been to the state bee before, adding that missing the practice word coyote made her even more nervous.
She said competing at this level helped her learn to ask the judges more questions and to pay attention to things like word origins.
"You can get a word you do know or you don't know," she said.
In the end after 200 words, 21 rounds and about three hours, Henderson Middle School's Simola Nayak of DeKalb County won the bee by correctly spelling imprimatur, after runner-up Andalib Malit Samandari, from Renfroe Middle School in Decatur, misspelled it, and then also correctly spelling tautologous.
The bee included 12 girls and eight boys ranging in age from 9 to 14 in fourth through eighth grades from 16 public schools, three private schools and one home school.
All contestants received $25, a certificate of participation and a GAE State Bee lapel pin.
The winner will represent Georgia in the Scripps National Spelling Bee championships in Washington, D.C., from May 27 through June 1.