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Eighth-grader Brandon Stewart took top honors at Big Park Community School’s annual student spelling bee this year.

On Friday, Jan. 11, 37 students from third through eighth grade gathered in the school’s library where BPCS Principal Steve Gardner read from a list of words.

By Tyler Midkiff
Larson Newspapers

Eighth-grader Brandon Stewart took top honors at Big Park Community School’s annual student spelling bee this year.

On Friday, Jan. 11, 37 students from third through eighth grade gathered in the school’s library where BPCS Principal Steve Gardner read from a list of words.

One by one, Gardner eliminated students until, after eight rounds, only Stewart and fellow eighth-grader Kyle De Tar remained.

The ninth round began with Stewart’s correct spelling of “heirloom,” and when De Tar missed “nuisance,” Stewart quickly ended the competition with a correct spelling of “reluctant.”

Stewart said he was never competed in a spelling bee before, but beginner’s luck may have paid off.

Neither he nor De Tar studied for the competition, according to Stewart, but what they lacked in preparation, they made up for with patience.

Each sounded their words out slowly and carefully before stating the correct spellings.

Tana Williams, BPCS’ librarian and media specialist, runs the school’s spelling bee every year, and according to her, Stewart and De Tar are both excellent readers.

Williams wasn’t a bit surprised to see the two perform so well, but it’s unusual for two eighth-grade boys to win the spelling bee, she said. Usually, fifth- and sixth-grade girls take the honor every year.

In any case, Stewart will travel to Camp Verde Middle School on Wednesday, Feb. 20, to compete against many Yavapai County public school students.

The pressure is high, because according to Williams, BPCS students have won four out of the last six or seven county spelling bees.

If all goes well, Stewart could find himself at the state spelling bee at Arizona State University in March.

If for some reason Stewart cannot attend the county spelling bee, De Tar will take his place, according to Williams.

In the meantime, both will be awarded for their achievements.

The Kiwanis Club of Sedona and the Verde Valley, which sponsors BPCS’ spelling bee every year, will award Stewart a plaque and a $100 savings bond, and De Tar a plaque and a $50 savings bond, Williams said.



Tyler Midkiff may be reached at 282-7795, Ext. 122, or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


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