Among the spelling bee winners and alternates who will be reporting to the Cleburne ISD Central Offices for Thursday’s Johnson County spelling contest will be a sister and brother duo from Gerard Elementary School.
The county spelling bee, involving nine CISD campus champions, along with representatives from public and private schools in neighboring districts, is set for 10 a.m. in the Central Offices Board Room.
Fifth-grader Samantha Miller and fourth-grader Zachary Miller are the No. 1 and 2 spellers from Gerard, after their campus spelling bee in December.
Both were their classroom’s spelling bee champions in qualifying for the campus competition, in which Samantha eventually won by successfully spelling “unctuous.” It was her third year to compete as a classroom winner and the second year for Zachary.
“I was a little worried when it got down to a few of us left,” Zachary said. “I thought, what if I win — or she wins? There might be a little family ‘thing’ going on. But it all turned out good.”
The siblings agree that the outcome was indeed a good one, as this is Samantha’s last year in elementary school.
“This has been a goal of mine for a long time,” Samantha said. “I wanted to win the spelling bee because this is my last year at Gerard. I know you can also compete in middle school, but I am very excited to be representing Gerard.”
“I have one more year here, so I’m going to think about winning next year,” her brother said. “I’m excited for Samantha — and nervous for her. I really want her to win — very much.”
In addition to competing together in spelling, the two are involved in competitive tennis, as participants in U.S. Tennis Association Zonal Advancement Tournaments. Because of their age difference — they are 16 months apart — they rarely compete against each other, but often face off across the net in family matches.
Zachary said he has helped his sister prepare for Thursday’s county competition and will be cheering for her as she competes with fellow campus champions for the honor of representing Johnson County at the regional spelling contest.
“It was great competing with all the classroom winners at Gerard,” Samantha said. “I was nervous the whole time, but it was also fun. It was exciting when it got down to the two of us.”
“My goal was to last longer than four rounds, which was as far as I got last year,” Zachary said. “This year, we spelled more than 25 rounds before I went down on ‘smithereens.’ I think that was a good achievement.”
And while the Miller kids admit that as siblings, they have their moments, they are happy for each other’s spelling bee achievements.
“Everyone thought it was so special when Zachary hugged me when it was all over,” Samantha said. “It was special for me, too, that whole brother and sister thing. If I hadn’t competed with him, it wouldn’t have been as exciting.”
“When she spelled that last word to win the spelling bee, I did go over and hug her,” Zachary said. “But I accidentally hit her in the nose when I was reaching for her. It didn’t hurt her, thank goodness.”
Also representing Cleburne ISD in the Johnson County Spelling Bee will be Adams Elementary School winner Lauren Faulks, with Trenton Johnson serving as alternate. Both are fifth-graders.
Representing Coleman Elementary School will be Carter Day, who also competed last year as a fourth-grader. Gunnar Allen, a fourth-grader, is Coleman’s alternate winner.
Fifth-grader Isaiah Hernandez is the spelling bee winner from Cooke Elementary School. Joshua Collins, who is in the fourth grade, is alternate.
Marti Elementary School representative is fourth-grader Tammy Nguyen, and third-grader Reese Easley is the alternate. Jada Martinez, a fifth-grader, will be spelling for Santa Fe Elementary School, with Felipe Muzquiz serving as alternate.
Irving Elementary School’s top speller is Janell Carrizales, who is in the second grade. Campus alternate is Jamileth Diaz, who is in the fifth grade.
Eighth-grader Michael Lunn will represent Wheat Middle School, with William Ronquillo, a seventh-grader, serving as alternate.
Corbin Werner will be competing at the county contest for the third consecutive year. As a fifth-grader, he represented Gerard. He was Smith Middle School’s champion as a sixth-grader and is now competing as a seventh-grader, with classmate Irene Flores serving as alternate.