Sevier student wins fourth citywide spelling contest, hopes to go to D.C.

Rick Wagner • Jan 15, 2009 at 12:00 AM

KINGSPORT — Andrew Nottingham hopes to have a rendezvous with national spelling destiny this year.

Spelling bee veteran Andrew, 13 and a seventh-grader at John Sevier Middle School, won Tuesday night’s citywide spelling bee at Lincoln Elementary School in the seventh round.

It’s his fourth win in five tries.

After spelling “lederhosen” in the sixth round when competitors failed to spell it correctly, he went on in the seventh round to spell “rendezvous” correctly for the win.

Andrew is heading to the Appalachian Regional Spelling Bee at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville Feb. 28, which he hopes will be his springboard to the national competition in Washington, D.C. About 50 usually compete at the regional from East Tennessee and a portion of Southwest Virginia.

“He really wants to go to Washington,” said his mother, Trish Nottingham.

This will be Andrew’s third competition at the regional. After his first citywide win in third grade, he finished seventh in the regionals, followed by a fourth-place finish in fourth grade.

“I just want to make it and have the experience,” Andrew said in the Sevier library after school Thursday. “That’s been my goal for all these years — to go to national.”

He won last year’s citywide competition in sixth grade, too, but did not get to go to regionals because the school system did not participate in the competition that year.

Andrew said he will practice as he has all these years — studying with a book called “Spell It.”

“They have a bunch of words you study from,” he said. “It’s hard to study the dictionary.”

Thirty-two students in grades three through eight competed this year in the citywide spelling bee after making it through a written test used to gauge spelling ability.

Lincoln Elementary teacher Pat Cox. who oversees the program, said Kingsport public school, private school and home-schooled students are eligible to compete.

“It’s at the D-B cafeteria,” Andrew said of the test, which is to write out the spelling of 50 words.

Although competitors must give the spellings orally in the citywide competition and upward, he said some contestants will spell out words on their hands using their fingers.

Andrew, on the other hand, said he prefers to visualize the word in his mind.

The spelling forte apparently doesn’t run in the family. Andrew’s sister, Elizabeth, 14 and a freshman at Dobyns-Bennett High School, competed in the past but did not win first place. And his brother, William, 10 and a fifth-grader at Lincoln Elementary, doesn’t compete in bees.

Andrew’s father is John Nottingham.

Andrew also is active in the Boy Scouts, Sevier cross-country and golf teams, and the Sevier band.

Second place — decided eight rounds after Andrew won — went to Abigail Hooker, an eighth-grader at Robinson Middle School. She beat Andrew when he was in fifth grade.

Ryne Tipton, a fifth-grader at Jackson Elementary, won third place. Thomas Edward, an eighth-grader from Sevier, won fourth place.

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