Chesapeake Community Center hosts special bee

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 14, 2013

CHESAPEAKE — Typically used for physical activities like basketball and Zumba, the Chesapeake Community Center gymnasium played host as Lawrence County Students gave their muscles a rest to exercise their minds.

The Lawrence County Special Spelling Bee took place at the community center Friday with more than 20 students from four of the county’s school districts.

Sharon Blankenship, Special Olympics coordinator for Lawrence County and the organizing official of the Special Spelling Bee, said the event was the brain child of Symmes Valley teacher Vicki Speed in the mid 1970s.

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“Vicki figured we had these athletic events for the kids, but we also needed academic events as well,” Blankenship said. “There was a group of us that spent about three months working on the details until we came up with what we felt was a logical list of words for the different levels.”

The different spelling levels are what makes the special bee different from other spelling bees, Blankenship said. The students are broken into divisions by age, primary, intermediate, middle school and high school, but they are then divided even further based on their spelling level. Blankenship said this is to level the playing field because even though two of the students may be the same age, they could be at different developmental stages and therefore on different spelling levels.

Brook Hackworth, from the Open Door School in Ironton, took first place in the middle school division. Throughout the competition, which lasted longer than any other division, she kept a determined look on her face.

“It feels very good to win,” Hackworth said.

Hackworth said she enjoys spelling and likes learning new words.

There was a time when all school districts participated in the Special Spelling Bee, Blankenship said, but attendance has declined over the years. She declined to go into specifics as to why this is, but said it is a shame because the event means a lot to those involved.

Open Door School, Symmes Valley, South Point and Fairland were the four districts to participate this year.

The following are the first, second and third place winners from each division:



• First: Steven Stapleton, Symmes Valley

• Second: Sethanie Carey, South Point

• Third: Brooklyn Carey, South Point



• First: Billy Friend, South Point

• Second: Abbi Lockard, Symmes Valley

• Third: Brandon Coville, South Point


Middle school

• First: Brook Hackworth, Open Door School

• Second: Nick Gravely, Fairland

• Third: Kelsey Dunford, Fairland


High school

• First: Kyle Bolan, Open Door School

• Second: Brittney Lowe, Open Door School

• Third: Katie Howell, Open Door School