ESSEX JUNCTION — Logarithmic. That’s the word Elise Cournoyer spelled correctly to clinch the 2022 Vermont spelling bee championship.

Elise, a seventh grader at Camels Hump Middle School in Richmond, dominated 14 rounds of competition Tuesday at the state’s Scripps Spelling Bee final. She plans to represent Vermont at the national spelling bee this June in Washington, D.C.

Sixteen spellers from elementary and middle schools around the state gathered at the Double E Performance Center in Essex Junction for the first state bee since 2019. (The pandemic scuttled competitions for the past two years.)

“Martial,” “nurture,” “terminus,” “filial” — students were eliminated for each misspelling over the course of the first seven rounds. By then, just two spellers remained: Elise and Claire Pomer from Crossett Brook Middle School.

Elise and Claire went head-to-head for seven more rounds, churning through “tremulous,” “unmoored,” “flabbergast,” “secession” and more. Rules stipulated that when one student misspelled a word, the other would have to spell two consecutive words correctly. Claire stumbled on “fervorous,” while Elise followed “spontaneity” with “logarithmic,” winning the day.

Elise first competed in Camels Hump’s spelling bee in fifth grade, her mother, Michelle, said after the competition. But the school’s bee was canceled the following year due to Covid-19, then called off again this year because the school was short-staffed. Organizers permitted competitors to enter the state bee this year without having participated in school competitions so long as the school gave permission.

Elise, who is also a dancer and a runner, said it felt good to win.

“I always liked words and writing and reading, and I’m very motivated,” she said after receiving the first place award. “I work really hard on things.”

VTDigger sponsored the 2022 event, which was also made possible by the Vermont Principals’ Association, Vermont Humanities Council, Kinney Drugs, Double E Performance Center, Vermont Student Assistance Corp and the Vermont Superintendents’ Association.

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