Indian Trails Middle School eighth grader Giles Platt was unsure about one of his words during the eight rounds of the 2024 Flagler Schools Spelling Bee. But he had no doubt about the winning word.
Platt won the county’s spelling bee on Thursday evening, Feb. 8, at Buddy Taylor Middle School.
“It feels awesome,” he said.
Platt correctly spelled “vicarious” in the eighth and final round to win the first-place trophy.
“The last word I knew because it was a song I liked,” he said.
Platt will represent Flagler County in the 79th annual First Coast Regional Spelling Bee on March 15 in Jacksonville. The regional winner will be awarded a spot in the 2024 Scripps National Spelling Bee contested during Memorial Day week.
The were 17 participants in the county spelling bee representing Flagler Schools’ five elementary schools and two middle schools as well as Christ the King Lutheran School and Imagine School at Town Center. Each participant won their schools’ grade-level spelling bee to qualify for the county competition.
Joyce Holmes, an eighth grader at Imagine School, was the runner-up. Christ the King seventh grader Evren Kabir placed third, and Christ the King eighth grader Joshua Schottey was fourth.
In contrast with last year’s Spelling Bell, which went 16 rounds with 105 words, pronouncer Chris Sefancik presented just 52 words this year. After three rounds there were just four spellers remaining. Platt and Holmes were the only two left for the sixth round where Holmes correctly spelled “jubilant” and Platt correctly spelled “injurious”. That was the only word of the night Platt asked Dr. Stefancik to repeat.
“I felt really at ease with the words,” Platt said. “A lot of them were ones I knew, and for ‘injurious’ which was the big one that I didn’t know, I just corrected a spelling based on my prior knowledge of the English language.”
Holmes misspelled her seventh-round word. Platt correctly spelled “apparatus” and then spelled the familiar “vicarious” to clinch first place.
Before the competition, two-time Spelling Bee champ Spencer Edelstein, gave tips to the competitors.
Edelstein, now a freshman at Flagler Palm Coast High School, won the Spelling Bee in 2022 and 2023. He told the participants to have fun and to use their resources. The most important resource, he said, is to ask the word pronouncer to repeat a word. Finally, he told the competitors to take their time.
“Think about the word and take your time as you’re spelling it,” he said.