FORT MILL Springfield Middle School student Charlotte Pollack looked at her sister Madeleine for encouragement as she stepped up to the podium and attempted to take the title.
The 2014 Fort Mill School District Spelling Bee was held Friday at the district office. The bee brought 36 contestants from Banks Trail Middle School, Fort Mill Middle School, Gold Hill Middle School and Springfield Middle School.
The final rounds pitted sister against sister as identical twins Charlotte and Madeleine Pollack, both Springfield Middle School seventh-graders, went back and forth in an attempt for the title.
Madeleine was the first to correctly spell her final word and receive a championship word. However, after she misspelled provolone, a word for an Italian cheese that is pronounced “pro-vo-LO-nay,” the rounds continued. After a few more rounds of both girls spelling their words correctly, Madeline’s misspelling of her next word opened the door for Charlotte to correctly spell picaresque and receive the championship word.
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Charlotte correctly spelled poltergeist and took home the title of Fort Mill School district Middle School Spelling Bee Champion. Madeleine was the runner-up and both sisters received a plaque and medal.
The sisters shared joy in getting to the final round and Madeline supported her sister’s win.
“I’m happy to get second,” she said. “It was pretty fun.”
The sisters spent a week studying together before the bee. Charlotte said she was surprised to take home the win and was happy to share it with her sister.
“She’s every bit as good as I am,” she said.
The girls’ family watched and supported their efforts.
Jacob Pollock said he wasn’t surprised to see his daughters win and was proud of both of them.
“They work hard,” he said. “Either of them could have won. They’re pretty smart kids.”
The other contestants took on words such as bric-a-brac, a French word meaning a collection of small articles with ornamental or sentimental value, in the first round, which ended with 20 contestants moving forward.
The second round ended with 12 contestants still in the running after they attempted to spell words such as schism, referring to a division in a religious denomination or political parties and Pavlovian, a word that describes the work of Ivan Pavlov. The third round asked contestants to spell words including collegiate and scintillation, which references the twinkling of stars.
Eight contestants moved to the fourth round and faced words such as fait accompli, meaning something unalterable or already done. Seven contestants moved to the fifth round.
Round five contestants did not miss a word. One contestant was eliminated during round six. Round seven saw two eliminations and round eight saw one, leaving the Pollock sisters as the two remaining contestants.
As the winner of the Fort Mill School District Spelling Bell, Charlotte will represent the district in The Charlotte Observer’s 60th annual Regional Spelling Bee Feb. 24 in Charlotte.
Spelling bees engage students and help them learn valuable speaking and problem solving skills, said Marty McGinn, assistant superintendent for the Fort Mill School District.
“It’s a special talent to be able to spell,” she said. “Spelling is an art. It’s a fun thing.”