Contestants ranged from 9-13 in age, which includes the fourth through eighth grades. At the end of the night, Mason Ward, a 13-year-old seventh-grader from Ringgold Middle School walked away with the top trophy after spelling the championship word, “irreconcilable.”
First-runner-up Lilly Black, an 11-year-old fifth-grader from Woodstation Elementary, faltered on the word “an-gioplasty,” giving Ward the win. Ward, an avid texter and Facebooker who has his sights set on being a veterinarian, was very excited about the win.
“That was awesome!” said Ward. “I like being up there and showing that I can do it.”
Ward said he studied a set of online study words and a pronouncer guide to prepare for the contest, but the real reason he felt he won was because of a very special military pin he was wearing.
“I feel like I won because I’m wearing my late grandfather’s Navy pin,” said Ward. “As I was leaving to come, I saw my grandfather’s Navy jacket and I decided to wear his submarine pin. That’s really why I think I won. He was helping me.”
Ward’s grandfather, the late Larry Thomas from Ringgold, died last summer. Thomas was in the U.S. Navy sub-marine service and retired as a senior chief after serving 20 years. Ward said they used to spend a great deal of time together and he missed him very much.
Christian Sawyer, 12, a seventh-grader from Heritage Middle, was declared second runner-up and Hannah Abraham, 11, a sixth-grader also from Heritage, placed as third runner-up.
Ingrid Jones, professional learning coordinator for the Catoosa County school system, presented trophies to the four contestants and congratulated them on their success.