South Middle student wins district bee

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By Jesef Williams

For Steven Hendryx, Thursday's district spelling bee turned out much better than the one last year.

At the 2007 district contest, Hendryx bowed out in the first round when he misspelled the word "prairie."

He said he was too nervous.

But this time around, Hendryx, a seventh-grader at South Middle School, outlasted the rest in the field.

He correctly spelled "chronology" to win the 2008 Lancaster County School District spelling bee, held at Stevens Auditorium at the University of South Carolina at Lancaster.

Hendryx and 14 other elementary or middle school students participated in the bee. Each competitor had won the spelling bee at their respective schools to get to compete in the district contest.

"He's one of the smartest students I've ever run into," said Scott Beatty, Hendryx's English teacher at South Middle. "I had confidence in him. I knew he could do a good job."

Hendryx and three other students remained heading into the fourth round Thursday.

Allie Dabney from Brooklyn Springs Elementary School misspelled "alfalfa." Brandon Fairchild of Indian Land Middle School missed "paprika" and then Discovery School's David Johnson misspelled "aspen"

That gave Hendryx the opportunity to win the bee.

First he spelled "affinity" correctly to advance him to the championship round as the only competitor.

Nervousness and uncertainty didn't set in this time. He stepped to the microphone and spelled "chronology" with ease, and the championship was now his.

Dabney, Fairchild and Johnson shared runner-up honors.

"I was sort of confident because I heard them (the words) before," said Hendryx, who has competed in several spelling bees before at the school level.

Hendryx will now compete in the regional spelling bee, which is Feb. 11 in Charlotte.

"It's going to be harder than this. The words are going to be tough," he said. "I'm going to do the same thing I did for this one - it seemed to work out."

Hendryx said he reads a lot of books and flips through the dictionary from time to time.

Joyce Crimminger, principal at South Middle, helped Hendryx prepare for the competition by conducting a mock bee earlier Thursday at the school.

She said that helped Hendryx to relax.

"He was able to get used to the format," Crimminger said. "It gave him some confidence."

Crimminger knew Hendryx could win the bee this year. And when it came down to "chronology," she wasn't worried at all.

"I knew as soon as he heard that word, he had it," she said. "He's a good speller. It goes back to the good training and enforcement he's had at home, and his love for reading."

Hendryx, the son of Steve and Cindy Hendryx, isn't just a spelling champ. He's also this year's geography champ at South Middle.

Bee competitors

Here's a list of the students who competed in the district spelling bee Thursday:

- Alex Eliades, A.R Rucker Middle

- Elizabeth Steen, Andrew Jackson Middle

- Allie Dabney, Brooklyn Springs Elementary School

- Jada Wright, Buford Elementary

- Cheyenne LaDue, Buford Middle

- Ja’Moneyike Clark, Clinton Elementary

- David Johnson, Discovery School

- Tamara Crosby, Erwin Elementary

- Amber Caskey, Heath Springs Elementary

- Jack Boggs, Indian Land Elementary

- Nylah Stover, Kershaw Elementary

- Brandon Fairchild, Indian Land Middle School

- Lexi Fletcher, McDonald Green Elementary

- Noah Bradley, North Elementary

- Steven Hendryx, South Middle

Contact Jesef Williams at 283-1152 or jwilliams@thelancasternews.com