As Buddy Taylor Middle School eighth-grader Keelin Cowart-Goldberg spelled the final word of the Flagler School District Spelling Bee competition, a nervous smile appeared on her face.
Did she spell it right?
"That is correct," said Executive Director of Teaching and Learning Diane Dyer, who served as the competition's pronouncer.
With that, Cowart-Goldberg became the 2018 district champion on Thursday, Jan. 18. Her mother, Julie Cowart, and her sister, Breanna Cowart-Goldberg, enthusiastically applauded from their seats in the Wadsworth Elementary School cafeteria.
"It was nice to have the support, and I was really happy for them to be here and see it," Cowart-Goldberg said.
She will represent Flagler Schools in the regional First Coast Spelling Bee on March 9 at the Florida Theatre in Jacksonville. While Cowart-Goldberg said she studied only three hours for this competition, she is planning on preparing a lot more for the regional bee. She said she attributes her spelling skills to her love of reading. Her favorite books are "Welcome to Night Vale" and "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy."
She said her knack for languages helped her for the competition, as well.
"I also have studied French and a little bit of Koren sometimes," she said. "Languages are cool.
Fourteen students in fifth to eighth grade represented the seven elementary and middle schools in Flagler County at the competition.
Cowart-Goldberg said everyone who competed worked hard to get there.
"I'm so proud of everyone that did it," she said. "I was telling them when we were in the bathroom earlier, even if you don't win — even if you lose in the first round — you still put in the effort, and I'm proud of all of you."