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Black Oak student not taciturn when taking her turn to spell

Black Oak student not taciturn when taking her turn to spell
Black Oak student not taciturn when taking her turn to spell | Obion County Spelling Bee

Nellina Wooten

Staff Reporter
It’s a good thing 12-year-old Nellina Wooten wasn’t taciturn Tuesday.
Otherwise, she might not have claimed the championship in this year’s Obion County Spelling Bee.
Miss Wooten, a seventh-grader at Black Oak Elementary School, confidently spelled her final word — taciturn — to clinch the title in the 12th round.
Taciturn means uncommunicative or tightlipped, not speaking freely or openly.
Miss Wooten, the daughter of James and Laura Wooten of Obion, outspelled seven other young competitors who had each won their respective school’s spelling bee to earn the right to compete at the county level.
The competition — sponsored by the Obion County and Union City education associations — lasted only about 15 minutes Tuesday afternoon at the Union City Municipal Building courtroom, where retired educator Suzanne Powers carefully pronounced the words as each contestant stepped to the microphone.
The eight competitors went through two practice rounds of words before the actual competition got under way shortly after 1 p.m. As competitor No. 1 among the eight, Miss Wooten was the first to step to the microphone to spell the first word — restaurant.
The first round was the downfall of three competitors who stumbled on their opening words. Among those eliminated in the first round were Union City Middle School seventh-grader Lyric Mackins, who faltered on transatlantic; Union City Elementary School fifth-grader Marquis Eskew, who misfired on authoritative; and Ridgemont Elementary School seventh-grader Kayla Bryant, who misspelled persistent.
The field of eight spellers was cut in half in the second round when Lake Road Elementary School eighth-grader Grant Yates stumbled on obituary.
Hillcrest Elementary School seventh-grader Ebernay McCage was knocked out in the third round when he misspelled exterminate — leaving only the three remaining spellers who would ultimately claim the first-, second- and third-place spots.
For the next five rounds, Miss Wooten spelled against two top spellers from South Fulton — eighth-grader Jonathan Hollowell from South Fulton Middle School and fifth-grader Cody Collier from SF Elementary School.
Collier was eliminated in the ninth round when he misfired on officiant, earning him a third-place finish in the county spelling bee.
Miss Wooten and Hollowell went head to head in the 10th round, where they each spelled their respective words, nominative and compunction.
In the 11th round, Hollowell stumbled on his spelling of anemic after Miss Wooten had successfully spelled optometry. She then spelled her final word — taciturn — in the 12th round to claim the title, leaving Hollowell in the runner-up spot.
During her dozen rounds of spelling prowess, Miss Wooten successfully spelled the words restaurant, enterprise, contrivance, efficient, deodorant, disparage, vernal, beguile, unforeseeable, nominative, optometry and, finally, taciturn.
It was Miss Wooten’s first year to compete in the Obion County Spelling Bee and she told The Messenger she had been practicing her spelling skills. She said she likes math and also enjoys playing basketball.
For the win, Miss Wooten earned the right to represent Obion County in the Mid-South Spelling Bee on March 2 at Al Chymia Shrine Temple in Memphis. Each of the three top finishers also earned a cash prize and a plaque, presented this year by Union City Director of Schools Gary Houston.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at

Published in The Messenger 2.6.13