HCS Student Competes at National Spelling Bee

Erin Howard, a seventh grader at Mountain Gap School, was in Washington D.C. recently to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. This was the third trip for Howard, as a winner of the Madison County and Alabama Spelling Bee for 2016, 2017 and 2018. At last year’s national competition, Erin tied for 7th place, and in 2016 she tied for 22nd place.  Erin made her first trip to the state spelling bee when she was in the third grade.  This year Erin made it all the way to the 10th round, having correctly spelled words such as phanerophyte, heautophany, and genestrole.

Erin says that making it to the finals last year was a “crazy experience” she will never forget. Each year she also says that she hopes to win, but regardless of any outcome she will continue to try hard and do her best.  "It's always an incredible week," Erin says, "it's just so fun to meet kids from all over the world that also enjoy language and spelling as much as I do."  She adds that another benefit is that she gets to meet up with old spelling friends from previous years, and that it's something of a reunion.

During the finals at last year’s national competition, Erin created a memorable viral moment when she made a request to “give me a word I know right now,” to which the spelling bee pronouncer, Jacques Bailly, desperately replied, “I’m trying.” When Bailly calls out the word, apparentement, Howard responded by asking, “[…] did you misunderstand my request?” Erin went on to correctly spell the word and advance in the competition.

Her family was present to watch Erin compete and were very excited for her to once again travel to the national competition. Mountain Gap Principal Heather Bardwell also said that she was thrilled for Howard and was rooting for her the entire time.  As the winner of the Alabama Spelling Bee, Erin Howard received an all-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C. to compete.

The 2018 Scripps National Spelling Bee is in its 91st year with a record 519 students competing at the event. More than 11 million students participated this school year in spelling bees across the country.  Despite such large nationwide numbers, Erin noticed that "only 42% of eligible HCS schools were actually participating in the Scripps National Spelling Bee program."  Citing the benefits the program on things such as literacy and critical thinking, Erin went straight to work, and with a little help from the district she has successfully worked to ensure that 100% of eligible schools are now also participants.

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