Stephenie Miller, Jessica Bernard, Raelynn Sweeris, Tamara Maddox

Participating in a spelling bee can be a nerve-inducing event. But imagine not being able to hear the words you were asked to spell. 

Wilkey 4th grader Raelynn Sweeris recently took on that challenge, coming away with a first place win at the regional Deaf and Hard of Hearing (DHH) Spelling Bee. She will compete at the state DHH Spelling Bee next March. Tamara Maddox, a Wilkey 1st grader, also competed for the first time, faring very well. 

During the spelling bee, words are both spoken and signed. Students can ask for the words to be repeated or used in a sentence, just like a regular spelling bee, according to Jessica Bernard, the district’s teacher for the deaf and hard of hearing. Students use a dry erase board, marker, and eraser to spell then show their work to event judges. 

Previous Grayson County winner Stephenie Miller was one of the few high school students asked to assist with judging.  Stephenie was a first-place winner at the middle school level, going on to take 2nd place at state that year.