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Kyra Holland wins Fauquier’s spelling bee with ‘virtuoso’ performance

Tuesday, Jan. 14 | By Mark Grandstaff | Google+
Kyra Holland, a sixth-grader at Marshall Middle School, beams as she spells her winning word, 'virtuoso.' - Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
A veteran speller came out on top with the word "virtuoso" at this weekend's Fauquier spelling bee.

Kyra Holland, a sixth-grade student at Marshall Middle School had taken second place in the annual Fauquier County Public Schools division-wide spelling bee, for the past two years, both times in the shadow of four-time winner Drew Marino. This year, however, she landed in first place by spelling the word "virtuoso."

Fifth-grader Kendra Walker from Walter Elementary School took second place. By the sixth round the bee had narrowed to only Kyra and Kendra, who correctly spelled elixir and tantalize respectively to advance to round seven. With the pressure on, Kyra spelled arsenal correctly, but the word mongrel took the final bite out of Kendra’s chances for the title.

In order to be named spelling bee champion, however, Kyra still had to spell one more word correctly as the sole speller in round eight. That’s when she nailed virtuoso, which was music to her own ears, evidenced by the growing grin on her face.

Sixteen of the bee’s 46 participants were eliminated in the bee’s first round, facing difficulty with such words as mammalian, leonine, torsion, moustache, schism and dodecahedron. Fifteen more left the match in the second round tripped up by such words as annihilation, occipital, macrocosm, maunder, bourgeois and fait accompli. Round three took out five more spellers who struggled with huckster, prattle, bequeath, renegade and matinee. At the end of round four, six more spellers were gone, and four remained. Fifth-grader Sabrina Hayes from Brumfield Elementary, after successfully spelling circumstantial, feng shui, fletcherism and mantilla, met her match with fennel, and seventh-grader Miles Housley from Warrenton Middle, after successfully spelling
importunate, accoutrement, boutique and oolong, was stumped by harpsichord. Kyra and Kendra spelled abdicate and amnesia correctly to go head to head in rounds six and seven as described above.

Students from all 11 FCPS elementary schools and all five middle schools participated in the county bee, which was held before a large crowd of parents, siblings, grandparents, principals, teachers, family and friends. Taylor Middle School reading specialist John Lucas coordinated the event, and Eileen Burgwyn, FCPS instructional supervisor of English, reading, and Title 1, served as the pronouncer. Judges were Donna Grove, School Board member from the Cedar Run District; Dr. Sandra Mitchell, associate superintendent for instruction; and Dr. David Jeck, superintendent.
Kyra and Kendra each received a dictionary from the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, and Kyra’s name will be added to the Division Spelling Bee trophy.

Both Kyra and Kendra will advance to the 9th Annual Free Lance-Star Regional Spelling Bee to be held on Saturday, March 15, at 1 p.m. at James Monroe High School in Fredericksburg. The regional winner will be eligible to participate in the 87th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC, in May.

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