Spelling Bee 2024

Oak Grove students vie against each other in elementary Spelling Bee
Posted on 03/05/2024
Clara Wilkerson embraces her mother, Carey.

An Oak Grove student ended up facing off against a schoolmate in the final round of the 12th annual Spelling Bee for third graders, sponsored by the Butler County Community Resource Council.

Clara Wilkerson spelled the word b-i-o-l-o-g-y correctly, the 117th word in the competition aired on KYEC 88.3/98.3 FM on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at Fox Radio Network.

Clara’s final opponent was Evan Yarbro, who tied her in the previous elimination round of the competition recently held at the individual elementary schools across the district. Also vying in the championship live on the radio were Mason Brumitt of O'Neal, Ernie Kon of Lake Road and James Councilor of Eugene Field.

“There’s only one champ today, but you’re all champions,” stated Kathern Harris, chairperson of the CRC Children and Youth Succeeding in School Committee, prior to the contest. “You’re the top third grade students in Poplar Bluff!”

After completing the initial word list, students made it through the tie-breaker list, which featured advanced sixth grade words, according to organizer Alexus Joplin of the CRC. Then pronouncer Shannon Midyett, Poplar Bluff Municipal Library director, cycled back through the wordlist from the final day of the three-week qualifier over the course of approximately one hour.

Clara’s mother, Oak Grove teacher Carey Wilkerson, noted that her daughter studied the words all weeklong during each round of the competition. “I even skipped tumbling,” Clara said, noting that her friends will be “surrounding me” when she returns to school, where a surprise party awaited both finalists.

Before the CRC took a temporary hiatus from hosting the spelling bee following the public health crisis, Oak Grove also sent two students to the spell-off, winning the trophy in 2020. Oak Grove additionally had dual finalists in 2019, one of which tied with Lake Road in the championship. Oak Grove also tied with O'Neal in 2019, before which O’Neal went on a multi-year winning streak.

Earlier last month, the Poplar Bluff Middle School held its annual spelling bee, with fifth grader Lacey Coffer placing first, sixth grader Roman Jordan second and Roman Hunt of the fourth grade – third place. The top two students will go on to vie in the 15th annual Three Rivers College Southeast Missouri Regional Spelling Bee on Saturday, March 23, at the Tinnin Fine Arts Center, the winner of which will advance to the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.


Cutline: CRC Spelling Bee champion Clara Wilkerson embraces her mother, Carey, on Wednesday, Feb. 28, at Fox Radio Network as owner Steve Fuchs passes by.

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