For the third year in a row, Ty Stuckwisch buzzed to the top of his class in the spelling bee at St. Ambrose Catholic School in Seymour.

That qualified him to participate in the 40th annual Jackson County Spelling Bee, conducted Monday night at the fairgrounds in Brownstown.

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There, he made the final three out of 50 students from 13 county schools who finished their fifth-grade year in the spring.

Down to the final two, Ty correctly spelled chauffeur, guacamole and cologne, allowing him to hoist a first-place county spelling bee trophy for the first time.

“I’m just really happy I finally won,” he said, noting that this was his last year to be eligible to participate. “That’s why I was wanting to win.”

Ty said he placed third as a third-grader and fifth as a fourth-grader.

“I was a little nervous, but once I did it this year, I kind of knew what was coming, so I was just prepared,” he said.

The Jackson County Spelling Bee, sponsored by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Indiana Realty, also consisted of 53 third-graders and 54 fourth-graders competing to be the top speller in their respective class.

The fourth-grade division took the longest. Ten spellers were eliminated in the fourth round, leaving three to battle it out.

Brownstown Elementary School student Kemora Bowers misspelled privilege, leaving it up to Seymour-Redding Elementary School’s Shayla Thompson and Brownstown Elementary’s Jayron Pearson to determine the winner.

Each of them spelled a word correctly, and then 15 words were given by pronouncer John Lawson, but neither could correctly spell two in a row.

Jayron then misspelled beautifully, and Shayla spelled it correctly and also spelled honorable right, making her the winner.

Shayla said her spelling bee at school took a long time to complete, too.

“Actually, I think it took longer,” she said.

On Monday night, she said the words progressively became more difficult.

“I felt like they would be pretty easy, and then they would get tougher,” she said.

To keep mentally focused, Shayla said she thought of a spelling list she downloaded on her tablet computer.

“I studied so much that when I think of it, it kind of pops in my head, and then it’s like a mental picture of it,” she said.

She also thought of the mock spelling bees at her grandmother’s house and relied on the support of her parents, who were in the stands Monday.

“I was very excited because I kept on looking at my parents and they were giving me a thumbs-up,” she said.

Shayla said she has come a long way in her spelling abilities.

“When I was really young, I was horrible at spelling,” she said. “I think once I learned all of those easy words that I always had trouble with, it was much easier.”

In the third-grade division, four boys remained after nine rounds. Two of them then missed words, leaving Emerson Elementary School’s Kelan Yates and Brownstown Elementary’s Cody Blackburn to duke it out.

Both misspelled government, and then Kelan was right on syllable, but Cody missed column. Kelan correctly spelled that word, resulting in him earning the first-place trophy.

“I’m proud I got a trophy because that’s only my second trophy,” Kelan said, noting his other one was for soccer. “I’m happy I won.”

Kelan said the atmosphere of the school spelling bee was different than the county competition.

“I was afraid that there were going to be better spellers,” he said of the contest at the fair.

But listening to his teacher at school during spelling lessons and studying a dictionary helped him prevail, Kelan said.

He planned on celebrating his big win at the fair.

“I’m probably going to just play some games,” he said.

At a glance

The top three spellers in each division of the 40th annual Jackson County Spelling Bee received trophies.

Third grade: First place, Kelan Yates, Emerson Elementary School; second place, Cody Blackburn, Brownstown Elementary School; third place, Braxton Parker, Seymour-Redding Elementary School

Fourth grade: First place, Shayla Thompson, Seymour-Redding Elementary School; second place, Jayron Pearson, Brownstown Elementary School; third place, Kemora Bowers, Brownstown Elementary School

Fifth grade: First place, Ty Stuckwisch, St. Ambrose Catholic School; second place, Clayton Blackburn, Brownstown Elementary School; third place, Madison Edwards, Brownstown Elementary School

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Zach Spicer is a reporter for The (Seymour) Tribune. He can be reached at or 812-523-7080.