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Leavelle McCampbell Eighth-Grader Graham Pickrell Wins District Spelling Bee


That was the championship word Leavelle McCampbell Middle School eighth-grader Graham Pickrell spelled correctly Monday night at the Aiken County Public Schools district spelling bee.

As for how it felt to win, he said “I don’t know,” but added that he wasn’t nervous to compete.

Pickrell said spelling is easy for him and is excited to head to the next level of the competition. With his win Pickrell advances to the Regional Scripps National Spelling Bee at the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina on March 4. First place winners of the school spelling bees also have the opportunity to compete in Charlotte. Winners from the regional competition will head to the national spelling bee later this year.

Dr. Tiffany Hall, the principal at Leavelle McCampbell, said she was proud of Pickrell for winning. 

“Graham is such a great speller and he was really passionate about it and I’m proud of him coming in proactive because I feel like he definitely studied,” Hall said. “He put the work in.”

Students, in fifth- through eighth-grades, participate in their school spelling bees and the area spelling bees before qualifying for the district spelling bee.

The final rounds came down to Pickrell and Dorian Heim from Jackson STEM Magnet Middle School. After going back and forth for a little bit, Pickrell correctly spelled “tibia” but Heim missed “kudos.” The competition went to the championship word, “frugal,” which Pickrell correctly spelled.

The 13 students who took the stage at the Amentum Center for the Performing Arts were: Pickrell, Heim, Libby Wilson from Paul Knox Middle School, Keegan Cobb from Hammond Hill Elementary School, Mariah Martin from Clearwater Elementary School, Lia Bailey from Gloverville Elementary School, Dylan Harris from Ridge Spring-Monetta Middle School, Givon Rasmusson from Aiken Intermediate, Vivial Blackwell from New Ellenton Middle STEAM Magnet School, Rebecca Kreitzer from New Ellenton Middle STEAM Magnet School, Wright Fowler from Kennedy Middle School, Caroline Baynham from Cyril B. Busbee Elementary School and Aubrie Thompson from Belvedere Elementary School, an alternate. Dayton Washington from Leavelle McCampbell was scheduled to participate but was unable to attend.

The other alternates were Victoria Lester from Aiken Elementary, Caroline McCord from Langley-Bath-Clearwater Middle School, Cadey Lowe from J.D. Lever Elementary School and Aden Coates from Jackson STEM Magnet School.

All participants received a Books-A-Million gift card Pickrell received an Apple gift card and new iPad, while Heim received an Apple gift card.

Click here to read the full Aiken Standard article.


Stephanie Hill