Gross named Spelling Bee champion

On Jan. 18, 2017, 45 middle school students in grades six, seven and eight took to the Hackney Theater stage in an attempt to take home top Spelling Bee honors and advance to the regional Virginian-Pilot Spelling Bee.

Casey Harney, Val Ortiz and Jill Archer judged as pronouncer Alan Stell patiently delivered each word, its definition and an example of it in a sentence through 11 rounds.

Six rounds in saw the final sixth-grade contestant Jillian Reed fall with the word semaphore. A few rounds later, the bee champions were declared. Eighth-grade Veronica Gross took first-place honors with the word nautilus. Seventh grader Kaitlyn Kaplan, who was last year’s reigning champion, took second place with the word nautilus and classmate Ashar Zahir took third-place honors.

The group was a mere 10 words away from having to utilize the additional word list. Veronica will go on to compete in The Virginian-Pilot’s Spelling Bee on Feb. 18, at 2 p.m. in WHRO Studios in Norfolk.