File Photo

Catherine Faimon
| Publisher

CARBONDALE—For the second consecutive year, Santa Fe Trail student Meredith Foulke has won the Osage County Spelling Bee. Now an eighth-grader, Meredith also holds the title of reigning champion at the 2009 Regional Spelling Bee, held each year in Topeka. This marks her third county spelling bee appearance.

Last year’s regional win gained her a trip to Washington, D.C., where she competed in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, and was toppled before the semi-finals.

Twelve students competed in the county bee Feb. 10 in the lunchroom at Carbondale Attendance Center. Each school in the county sent their top two spellers, ages eighth grade and younger.

By the end of the sixth round, only Foulke and seventh-grader Samantha Volkman, from Marais des Cygnes Valley Middle School, remained. They each spelled their words correctly in round seven (wreckage and longevity) and round eight (scalene and broach). Volkman was asked to spell “truncated” in round nine, where she tripped up, and Foulke correctly spelled “mandible.”

To win the bee, Foulke had to spell “gelatinous” correctly, which she did in short order, using her trademark of spelling the word on her left arm, using her right index finger, to visualize the word.

Volkman, no stranger to excellent spelling skills, competed at the county level her fifth grade year, taking top honors. She represented her school at the regional bee in Topeka, where she placed second.

Foulke, 13, said she felt pressure to repeat her performance, but the pressure was mostly from herself.

“I was nervous,” she said, minutes after winning.

She plans to have her friends and family quiz her in the coming days, in preparation for the Topeka bee. She is the daughter of Gary and Shelley Foulke.

Volkman, 13, said she was confident in her ability to spell the words she was given, until the last word, when she got nervous. She reads a great deal of material, citing that as her main practice. She is the daughter of Angie and Mike Volkman, of Melvern.

Volkman also qualified for the regional bee in 2008, where she placed second.

Pronouncer for the event was Allison Folger, eighth-grade language arts teacher. Judges were Sandy Meats, seventh grade language arts teacher, and Gretta Hug, eighth-grade reading teacher.

The regional spelling bee is 1 p.m. Saturday, March 13, at Topeka West High School, and is hosted by The Topeka Capital-Journal.

The Osage County Herald-Chronicle sponsors the annual county spelling bee.