A ‘leisure’-ly win

Published 12:05 am Wednesday, February 8, 2012


Taj Patel’s win at the county spelling bee was accomplished at the true definition of his winning word – “leisure.”

It took less than 10 minutes for Patel, a 6-year-old first grader at Straughn Elementary School, to beat out fellow competitors from each of the county’s elementary schools Tuesday.

Students in kindergarten through the eighth grade were able to participate in the spelling bees at the individual school level. Those winners then advanced to the county-level competition, which was held Tuesday. Judges for the event were June Smith and Caryl Lee Jackson.

Anna Johnson, spelling bee coordinator, said the four-round competition featured Nick Creamer, Andalusia Elementary; Caitlin Tisdale, Pleasant Home; Lindsey Smithart, Pleasant Home Jr. High; and Patrick Simpson, W.S. Harlan. Smithart was this year’s runner-up. She was knocked out of the competition after she misspelled “condiments.”

Johnson said Patel’s winning word was a perfect description of his performance.

“Taj was very calm,” she said. “He never spelled fast or slow, just fluent and composed.”

Patel is the son of Neil and Binita Patel. He will now represent Covington County at the state spelling bee, which will be held March 10 at Oak Mountain High School in Birmingham. The winner of that bee will represent Alabama at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.