Round after round, Na’Tavia Crawford crossed her fingers as she stepped to the microphone in the North Augusta High School auditorium Thursday.
Softly, the fifth-grader spelled word after word in the Area II Spelling Bee.
One by one, most of competitors were quickly eliminated. Then sixth-grader Michael Havasy misspelled “frivolous,” leaving Na’Tavia and fifth-grader Amy Herring, to spell it out for first place.
As emcee Carol Creamer explained that the rules would change for the final round, Na’Tavia buried her face in her finger-crossed hands and rocked back and forth. Amy sat still and straight as she listened to Creamer tell the audience that if one of the remaining contestants missed a word, the next contestant must spell the word given and the next one on the list to be declared champion.
After six rounds, Na’Tavia stumbled over the word “fedora.” Amy successfully spelled “compromise” and “inflammable” and was declared the winner.
After it was over, the girls shook hands, Esther and Doug Herring hugged their daughter.
Octavia Crawford, Na’Tavia’s mother, told her daughter how proud she was.
“She’s been excited. I’ve been more excited. I told her she got farther than I did. I was in a spelling bee, too,” she said.
Though she was hoping for first place, Na’Tavia said she is very happy with second place.
“I feel smart and awesome,” she said.
In the weeks leading up to that moment, both girls studied hard, they said.
Na’Tavia began studying after Thanksgiving. Spelling is one of her favorite subjects.
Amy also studied every day, reading a word, covering it and spelling it to herself. Like Na’Tavia, spelling is one of her favorite subjects. She also loves to read, which helps her with spelling. Her mother said Amy can read a stack of books in just a couple of weeks.
“Give her a book, put her in the corner, she’s good,” Herring said.
Amy studied not only the words provided by her teacher this year but also a word list she received last year from her teachers at her previous school, Curtis Baptist School.
“At my old school, I was scared to do the spelling bee, but this year I’m like, ‘I can do this,’” she said. “I was an alternate in the fourth-grade class, and I chose not to because I was kind of scared.”
She was proud of herself for competing this year, though she’s nervous about competing in the Aiken County Spelling Bee.
The girls will compete in the Aiken County Spelling Bee on Feb. 4.