BY John Harvey
Deserts are traditionally the final part of a dinner service.
Liberty Middle School eight-grader Blake Jenkins correctly spelled the name of a traditional French desert to win the Hanover County Division Spelling Bee.
“Just knowing that I actually had the capability of doing this was an amazing feeling,” Jenkins said. “With this being my last year, it was even more important, and winning made me feel so good inside.”
Jenkins outlasted a field of 18 competitors to claim his second straight spelling bee crown. The competition included entries from each of the area’s elementary and middle schools and was held Jan. 24 at the Hanover County School Board Office in Ashland.
The 13-year-old has been a fixture in these competitions and has been a big proponent of them.
“Ever since I was eligible, I would try my hardest,” Jenkins said. “I haven’t always won, but even without the win, it’s still been fun to compete.”
In 2017, he won his first county spelling bee title and finished second at regionals, just missing out on making it to nationals.
One of the keys to his success is practice.
“While preparing, I would study any sort of words I thought would be useful,” he said. “But I also began studying more into the roots (of words) and language patterns.”
The extra work served him well this year, even though he admitted there were some nerves prior to the competition.
“In the beginning, I was nervous,” he said. “However, began gaining confidence and started feeling really good about myself.”
The confidence continued throughout the competition, including the winning word, parfait.
Emily Ferlmann, a seventh-grade student at Oak Knoll Middle School and Matthew Powell, a fifth-grader at Beaverdam Elementary School tied for second-place honors.
Other participants included: Jason Anderson (Grade 6, Chickahominy), Christopher D’Adamo (Grade 5, Cold Harbor), Kenleigh Stainker (Grade 3, Battlefield Park), Claire Martin (Grade 5, Cool Springs), Ashton Cobb (Grade 5, Elmont), Octavia Floyd (Grade 5, John M. Gandy), Luke Wratchford (Grade 4, Kersey Creek), Gloria Cox (Grade 5, Laurel Meadow Elementary), Mackenzie Halford (Grade 5, Mechanicsville), Xander St. Jean (Grade 5, Pearson’s Corner), Will Hodges (Grade 4, Pole Green), Kamden Fulcher (Grade 5, Rural Point), Lainey Farmer (Grade 4, South Anna), Pippy Biondi (Grade 8, Stonewall Jackson) and Grant Wolford (Grade 4, Washington-Henry).
Jenkins advances to the regional competition to be held Saturday, March 10 at the Library of Virginia in Richmond.