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McCracken Sophomore Wins State Spelling Bee
Contest held for deaf, hard-of-hearing students in Hardin County

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Samuel Salus, a sophomore at McCracken County High School, won the 10th through 12th grade division in the sixth annual state deaf and hard-of- hearing spelling bee, held Tuesday at the Hardin County Extension Office in Elizabethtown.

Salus qualified for the state spelling bee by winning the regional spelling bee Dec. 9 in Princeton.

Salus said he felt nervous to participate in the state spelling bee, but he was able to work through it to the state title.
“The two hardest words that I had were ‘caesarian’ — I didn’t think I was going to get it — and ‘rural-centric,’ ” he said. “I Googled it (after ward) to see what it meant, and it didn’t come up, so I still think that’s wrong; that had me a bit concerned.”

Sixteen students from across Kentucky took part in Salus’ division, with a total of 81 students taking part in the state spelling bee in grades 1 through 12.

Each qualifier for the state bee was given a list of 100 words appropriate for their grade level to study before the bee.
Salus won the bee on the 99th word given, which was “defiant.”
“For a while, there were seven people,” he said. “I’d say for about 20 words straight, there were just seven people, so that got me a bit nervous. But, once it got down to two other people, I thought, ‘Well, if I miss a word, then I’ll take third place.’
Then, another person got out, and I said, ‘OK, I’ll take second place.’ ”
As the spelling bee went on, Salus stood up for a student who spelled the word as it was given on the spelling list, but not as the judges said it.
“What happened was the spelling word was ‘accumulate,’ but at the spelling bee, they said, ‘accumulative,’ ” he said. “She wrote ‘accumulate’ because that’s what she saw (on the list).
“They counted her wrong and said that was completely different, but I told them that the spelling list said ‘accumulate,’ and that’s why she wrote that down.”

Salus said he saw the judges give a thumbs-down sign, indicating that the student spelled the word incorrectly.

“I told them that it was not fair,” he said, adding that the judges let her continue in the competition.

Salus said he wasn’t sure if he would defend his title next year.
“It was fun,” he said. “I get competitive and like competitions.”

Salus also plays chess for the McCracken County High School team.

He said he would recommend the spelling bee to students who asked him about it.
“I would tell them to go for it,” he said. “You never know what could happen.”
Other students from western Kentucky to take part in the 10-12 division were Christina Baten-Ajanel of Mayfield High School, Sydnee Davis of Graves County, Selena Jones of Ohio County, Tyanna Poindexter of Warren County and Benny Shirley, a student at the Kentucky School for the Deaf who lives in Crittenden County. Shirley placed third in the 10-12 grade division.
Other western Kentucky students to place among the top three in their divisions were Aaron Perry, Muhlenberg North Middle, third place, 7-9 grade, and Jemma Carroll, Indian Hills Elementary (Christian County), second place, 3-4 grade.