For weeks now, Leon County fifth grader Ryan Crawford has been preparing for a district-wide spelling bee.
"You get real nervous. You get cold because you're so nervous and everyone is quizzing you everywhere."
The contestants went head to head Thursday night in the Rickards High School auditorium.
"It was kinda nervous, but it was fun being up there. Because you saw all these people and you were up on stage and the spotlight was on you when you came up to say the word," said fourth grader Ekaya Ellis, who misspelled the word “candidate.”
For Ellis and Crawford and many others, the night didn't quite go as planned.
"Everyone else was getting easy words and I just hit a rough one," said Crawford who misspelled “petunia.”
But even walking away makes the students feel good. They all had to win in their school spelling bees to get to Thursday night's spelling bee.
"I guess I'm smart and you're around other smart people and we bond together," said contestant Indiya Walker.
The audience was filled with families, teachers and other Leon County school officials.
"I'm very, very proud. It's a wonderful opportunity for the kids in the county to get out and show their stuff and do their best work. It's an awesome opportunity," said Chaires Elementary School Principal Christi Moss, who was in the audience to support one of her students.
Shannon Meeks, executive director of Leon County Curriculum Services, says it’s a great experience for the students.
"It's competition. It's very academic. Some just excel at spelling and I think it’s something wonderful to have in life
Although Dylan Connor is the only one to move on to the regional round all the participants are taught they're all winners for Leon County.
Connor is a student at Community Christian Middle School.
His winning word was “misdemeanor.” He now goes to a regional spelling bee to compete with other students in north Florida and south Georgia.
That winner will go to Washington, DC for the national spelling bee.
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