From Carol Helton's perspective, a positive new trend emerged in this year's Dawson County school system spelling bee.
"The thing I noticed that the contestants did differently was the number of times the contestant asked for a definition or a sentence," said Helton, one of the three judges in the bee Friday at Dawson County Middle School.
"Typically, we only get one request during a bee, so they were all being very thoughtful and deliberate."
In the end it was Riverview Middle seventh-grader Tori Adkins edging Summer Fisher, an eighth-grader at Dawson County Middle, for the spelling title.
Adkins correctly spelled "atrophy" and "enzyme" in the final round.
"My biggest fear was that there would be some hard word that I was just going to blank out on," she said.
Adkins will represent the system on Feb. 25 at the District 1-9 Region Spelling Bee, with Fisher serving as alternate. A location has not been announced.
Although disappointed she didn't receive first place, Fisher said it was "pretty cool" she was the systemwide alternate.
"I am proud of myself," Fisher said.
Adkins, whose grandmother, mother, brother and friend were there to support her, said she was "nervous, but excited."
"I feel really good inside," Adkins said.
Helton, who is also the system's technology supervisor, said she was proud of the six contestants, which included one representative from each of the system's six elementary and middle schools.
"I thought they did a really good job," she said. "Typically at some point in the bee the words become much more difficult and when we hit those difficult words [the contestants] were doing such a good job."
The other four contestants included: Black's Mill Elementary fifth-grader Cassy Dickey; Kilough Elementary fifth-grader Madison Coker; Riverview Elementary fifth-grader Jacob Chance; and Robinson Elementary fourth-grader Samantha Hafermalz.