|Conyers’ spelling champ takes home more shiny hardware|
|Friday, 01 March 2013 10:56 | Written by Joshua Smith|
CONYERS—She has done it again. After 68 grueling rounds of spelling and eliminations, Jazz Duncan, 13, has been named the best speller in her region.
“It was pretty good. I knew all the words for the most part. Some were a little tricky, but I got through it,” said Duncan, who with her Feb. 23 victory marked three years in a row winning both the County and the Regional competition. “My family was really excited and really relieved when I was named the winner.”
The winning words: muishond, a small carnivorous mammal with short legs and elongated body and neck, otherwise known as a weasel; and schottische, a partnered country dance that is believed to have origins in the Central Europe region, Bohemia.
“The words usually start off easy, but then as the rounds move on, you run into some words you’ve never seen or heard before,” Jazz Duncan said. “That’s when origins and just sounding the words out comes in handy.”
Jazz Duncan’s regional title makes six years straight that a member of the Duncan family has received top honors in the regional spelling competition.
“It’s not always about memorizing words. That helps, but you can’t just shove words in your brain,” said Duncan, an eighth grader at Memorial Middle School in Conyers. “You really need to know the phonetics of words to be successful in competition.”
The Duncan family goes over the spelling, origins and the meaning of words on a daily basis, wherever they can. On the way to school, on the way to practices, on the way home, they’re spelling. Jazz says her older brother, Jaire, now in 10th grade at Rockdale Magnet School for Science and Technology, was the reason she got into spelling for competition. Jaire was the first spelling champ in his family. He won the county spelling bee three years in a row when he attended Memorial Middle School.
“The amount of success the Duncans show really proves the support and energy coming from the Duncan household. The Duncans are an example for our other students here,” said Bernice Taylor, who has taught reading at Memorial Middle for 11 years and co-coordinates the school’s spelling bee. “We are so proud of Jazz. She makes the school and the district shine. It can be nerve racking to watch her compete, but it’s always exciting.”
Jazz’s mother, Heather Duncan, often coaches her children. She says Jaire, Jazz and her youngest brilliant speller, 10-year-old Zora, who has come second to Jazz in previous competition, are so successful because they don’t put pressure on cramming words in for memorization. Instead, they make the words a part of everyday life.
“It’s about application. A lot of the words the girls will already know because they are familiar with them from playing piano or other activities. The word crescendo was a great example of that,” said Heather Duncan. “With school work being first and then other activities like dance, we spell whenever and wherever we get the chance to.”
The family’s focus is now directed on Jazz’s next competition: She competes on March 15 at Georgia State University to spell against 50 of the best spellers in Georgia at the State Spelling Bee in Atlanta. Jazz has placed in the top five before.
“I do want to win state. Although having competed last year calms my nerves some, I know it will be really challenging,” said Duncan. “Winning state would be pretty cool, especially since this is my last year competing as a middle school student. But if I don’t win, my mom’s already training Zora for state competition.”