Etowah County spelling bee winner claims state title

Gadsden Middle School student Josh Kelley (pictured on right) won the Alabama Spelling Bee on Mar. 8 at Oak Mountain High School. Pictured with Kelley is event co-ordinator Susan McDougal.Gadsden Middle School student Josh Kelley (pictured on right) won the Alabama Spelling Bee on Mar. 8 at Oak Mountain High School. Pictured with Kelley is event co-ordinator Susan McDougal.

By Laura Ann Brown Tipps/Staff Writer

2014 Etowah County Spelling Bee winner Josh Kelley now holds the title of Alabama Spelling Bee champion. 

On March 8, after 17 rounds of competition and spelling words like coiffure and oscitation, Kelley was declared the winner after correctly spelling Macedonian. 

This summer, Kelley will travel to Washington, D.C. for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. He is almost as excited about touring the city as he is about the competition. 

“I’ve never been before, but I’ve always wanted to go because of all the diverse historical stuff there,” said Kelley, whose favorite subject in school is history.

Kelley’s whole family, a self-proclaimed “spelling bee family,” will accompany him on the trip to D.C.

All four Kelley brothers have participated and excelled in spelling bees, and although they frequently compete against one another, the siblings ultimately are each other’s biggest fans, supporters and coaches.

“We carry note cards in the car, and the brothers always have some on them so that Josh can study whenever he has time,” said Kelley’s mom, Amy.

Finding time to study can be a challenge for Kelley, who is also a high achiever in school, baseball and Quiz Bowl.

In fact, on the same weekend he and his family will leave for the National Spelling Bee, Kelley will be in New Orleans with Gadsden City High School’s junior varsity Quiz Bowl team for a national competition.

Gadsden Middle School’s Quiz Bowl team will compete at nationals this year as well.

Dana Coats, a 16-year spelling bee sponsor at Gadsden Middle School, said that Kelley’s success comes as no surprise to her. 

“Josh has just taken off and flown with this,” said Coats, who teaches 8th grade reading at the school and looks forward to having Kelley in her class next year.

“He is so humble, always giving credit to others, and he’s very studious but has a great sense of humor, too.” 

Kelley gives most of the credit to God and his family, saying that his state win is as much a victory for the rest of the Kelley clan as it is for him.

“My mom, especially, helped me so much in preparing for state – she really stuck with me.” 

Like her son, Amy Kelley brushed off the accolade.

She felt the win was partly the result of divine intervention.

“Sometimes you get a word you don’t know and somehow it just comes to you, and we did so much praying before and during the bee,” she said.

Studying certainly will not hurt Kelley’s chances at nationals, so he plans to continue working on etymology, language patterns and word lists.

“My goal is just to have a respectable finish and represent Alabama well.” he said.

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