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Students defy cold, spell
Dawson County Middle eighth-grader takes first
3 System spelling bee pic 1
Riverview Middle School Principal Bill Zadernak, far left, stands with system spelling bee runner-up Joshua Loftin, while champion Leigh Wilson displays her trophy alongside Dawson County Middle School Principal Mark Merges. - photo by David Renner Dawson Community News

Despite a few weather-related delays, the Dawson County school system has crowned a spelling bee champion to represent it in the district spelling bee.

The local bee was originally scheduled for Jan. 29, but had to be moved due to inclement weather. It was held at 9 a.m. Monday at Dawson County Middle School.

The top speller and alternate from each of Dawson's middle and elementary schools competed, with the words ranging from "bleary" and "capsize" to "hectic" and "frigid."

The competition moved at a quick pace until only Leigh Wilson from Dawson County Middle and Riverview Middle's Joshua Loftin remained.

After 20 words between the two, Wilson emerged on top, correcting Loftin's misspelling of "frigid" and then correctly spelling her own word of "bulletin."

"It feels the same as it did when I won the school one," she said afterward. "I didn't really study. So, you know, I guess I should probably study for the next one."

Wilson snapped Riverview's five-year streak of having the system's spelling bee champion.

"Leigh is a wonderful student. She's done such a great job and we're really proud of her," said Dawson County Middle School Principal Mark Merges. "As I always say, it's all about the kids, and we're really proud of her."

Wilson advances to the district spelling bee, with Loftin as her runner-up.

"The winner of this competition will advance to district competition," said Rick Brown, assistant superintendent of curriculum. "If by some chance the winner will not be able to attend, the alternate will advance."

The district spelling bee is set for March 1 at Mabry Middle School in Marietta.