Plantersville's Aliyah Lee wins county spelling bee

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – Plantersville fifth-grader Aliyah Lee has been particularly c-o-m-p-e-t-i-t-i-v-e over the last week.
So it was fitting that when the 10-year-old girl stepped to a table in the Hancock Leadership Center and correctly spelt the word “competitive,” she became Lee County’s spelling champion.
Eight students from Lee County, Nettleton and Tupelo schools participated in Tuesday’s Lee County Spelling Bee. After seven rounds and 32 words, Aliyah stood alone. Nettleton eighth-grader Brittany Hieb was second, and Nettleton fourth-grader Trey O’Neal was third.
Aliyah was particularly heartbroken after finishing second at the Lee County School District’s spelling bee last Tuesday and really dedicated herself to doing better this time, said her mother, Natalie Clark.
“I was mad because I didn’t win first place,” Aliyah said. “I practiced almost every day and on weekends with my mom and my gifted teacher.”
Clark said Aliyah reads often and that she enjoys playing Scrabble and spelling games on the Internet.
“She’s always been an excellent speller,” Clark said.
Now Aliyah will advance to the MidSouth Spelling Bee March 6 in Memphis. The winner of that will compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. in May.
“When she placed second in the district, she was not satisfied,” said Plantersville Principal Bill Horton. “She is a really good student, and she has taken this seriously and has represented out school well.”
All eight competitors advanced to the second round, before Nettleton’s Parker Tipton was tripped up by “successful,” and Lee County’s Will Pate stumbled on “centipede.” Round three knocked out Tupelo’s Achintya Prasad (“immature”) and Sam Bates (“denominator”). Tupelo’s Treyce Bannerman missed “artificial” in the fourth round, and Nettleton’s Trey O’Neal was put out on “luxury” in the fifth, leaving the competition’s only two female competitors to duke it out.
When Brittany misspelled “subterranean,” Aliyah needed to ace both “apprentice” and “competitive” to take the title. She said she was confident she knew how to spell both words.
“I enjoy seeing the children excel in academics through spelling” said Derwood Tutor, the Hancock Leadership Center director, who read the contest’s rules before it began. “The thing I don’t like is the hurt it puts on them when they miss a word. They have to understand they are winners when they come here.”
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or at