GADSDEN, Ala. (AP) - Gadsden Middle School’s Joshua Kelley prepared repeatedly and fought hard to bring the Alabama Spelling Bee title home. He had to contend with marathon preliminary bees, his own kin and the difficult words themselves.
Saturday at Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham, Joshua completed that long and rigorous path by spelling the word “Macedonian” to become the first state spelling champion from Gadsden City Schools.
His next stop will be the Scripps National Spelling Bee May 25-31 in Washington, D.C.
Joshua still was beaming about his victory Monday as he showed off his trophy.
“It’s spectacular,” he said. “It feels really good because I worked so much for this.”
Unlike the world’s most famous Macedonian, Alexander the Great, Joshua was not undefeated in his trek to glory. He lost to his own brother, Jacob, in the Gadsden City Schools’ spelling bee and his showdown with another brother, John, in the Gadsden Middle School bee lasted more than three hours.
He finally made it to the state level after winning a 79-round Etowah County Spelling Bee that largely was a duel with Westbrook Christian Elementary’s Micah Blisard. It was Joshua’s second straight county championship.
As the state bee approached, Joshua learned about a new surprise that he had not seen in the previous spelling bees - a vocabulary section.
He said it luckily lasted only two rounds, but was plenty difficult. He remembered one word in the section, consensus, and was given two definitions, a count of the people in a country or an agreement. He said the question was tricky, but he made sure to remember that a census counts people.
His mother and brothers have been with him the entire way. John and Jacob were at the state bee and were following along with their mother, Amy, who has helped prepare the Kelleys to be such able spellers.
There are scheduling issues with the national bee for the Kelleys, as another son, Justin, will be competing for Gadsden City High School’s junior varsity Scholars Bowl team in the nationals in New Orleans.
It may take a red-eye flight across the Southeast to get all the Kelleys in Washington. However, they will be together in the end because it was their work together in the beginning that launched Joshua to the heights he has achieved.
“This victory was for all of the brothers,” Amy Kelley said. “They all worked together through all this.”