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County spelling champ headed to regional bee

CHESPEAKE — A Chesapeake Middle School student who won the Lawrence County Spelling Bee in December has qualified to compete in the regional bee at Ohio University in Athens.

Emily Neal, an eighth grader at the school, has taken and passed the online qualifying test for the regional event, set for March 19, Julie Walters, the superintendent for Lawrence County Educational Service Center, said Wednesday.

Neal, who is in her last year of eligibility to compete, has taken part in the regional competition twice before, placing second in 2014 and third in 2013.

She has also been a frequent finalist in the regional bee, having taken second place in 2014, first place in 2013, first place in 2012, second place in 2011 and first place in 2010.

Neal was born deaf and is able to communicate and compete in the bees with the aid of a Cochlear implant.

Walters said John Tyler, a Chesapeake Elementary student and winner at his school, has also qualified to compete in the regional bee this year.