Dean Rusk Middle School sixth-grader Riley O’Neill correctly spelled “piratical” and then “hurriedly” to claim the title as the county’s top speller at the 2020 Cherokee County School District Spelling Bee Thursday night at Cherokee High School.

Brayden McPhillips of Woodstock Middle School captured second, and Laura Hand of Creekland Middle School placed third.

Twenty-nine Cherokee County students put their spelling skills to the test in the Georgia Association of Educators and Cherokee County Association of Educators’ annual competition, which went 15 rounds over 90 minutes before a winner was decided. Spellers tackled more than 120 words, including tricky terms like “diaphoresis,” “vacuum” and “firmament.”

All three students will advance to the GAE Region Spelling Bee in Cobb County on Feb. 22. State winners advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee held in Washington, DC in May.

The county spelling bee is sponsored each year by Cherokee County Association of Educators and the Georgia Association of Educators. Peta Murray is the GAE Spelling Bee Coordinator; John Carter served as caller of the words; judges were School Board Member John Harmon, along with Ana Pettit and Tiffany Robbins. Lena Washington, Bekki Couch and Stephanie Shaffer were spotters (assisting speller advocates in the event of a question).

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