Via Press Release
On Saturday, Feb 23rd Henry Corbitt made the trip with his family and Lowndes Middle School Spelling Bee Sponsor and teacher Mr. Conner Butler to Bainbridge, Georgia to compete in the District 9 Spelling Bee. He was setting out on a mission that he had undertaken on so many occasions before. Since the young age of ten, it was recognized that Henry possessed the rare talent of being an exceptional speller. He has been competing in the Lowndes County Schools Spelling Bee since being in the 4th grade at Moulton Branch Elementary School. During each year since he has started competing, Henry has won 1st or 2nd place at the school level and has advanced to the county-wide spelling bee every year. He has won 1st place at the county level in both 5th grade and 8th grade and at the Region District 9 level, he won 3rd place in the 5th grade. This year in 8th grade he won 1st place at Regionals for District 9 by defeating 23 winning students from other school systems across South Georgia to bring home all the gold for the Lowndes County School System and to Lowndes Middle School!
Henry had an opportunity to speak at length with Lowndes Middle School Media Specialist, Leigh Grantham about his Spelling Bee history and talent. First of all, he said, “It feels so special to win at the regional level this year because the 2nd place winner was from the Valdosta City School System and the 3rd place winner was from Crossroads Baptist, a private Christian school also here in Valdosta.” When asked what one thing he feels has attributed the most to his success with spelling, he said without hesitation that it was the amount of reading he has done since a very young age. Henry says that his mother read to him every day as far back as he can remember. He added, in his home, reading was not an option, it was just something we did every day. He was not forced to read, but it was clear that his mother made it a priority for their home. As a result, he learned to love books before even starting school.
Upon starting school at Moulton Branch Elementary Henry says he vividly remembers being in Pre-K and walking into the Media Center for the first time and seeing what seemed to be a “very gigantic room full of awesome books!” He and his classmates were shown the little shelves that contained mostly the Pre-K and Kindergarten level appropriate literature. He remembers thinking to himself, “I don’t want to read those books. I want to go over there!” It didn’t take his teacher long at all to recognize his early literacy skills and he was set free to read anything and everything he could in the library. Henry said, “Without all the months and years that his mother had read to him since he was a baby, that the situation starting Pre-K and his success in school, in general, would have been very different.”
When asked, what it is about reading such a large volume of books that makes you such an exceptional speller? Henry says, “The more you read and are exposed to the same words over and over in different contexts you rapidly begin to understand their meaning from clues within the text. Then as you start seeing similarly spelled words in other books a reader is able to decipher their meaning and pronunciation just from being exposed to them before so many times before.” He also says he did not limit his reading to one particular type such as science fiction or fantasy, but read across all genres regularly and didn’t limit himself to only one or two authors. Basically, he is well read and fluent because of reading such a wide variety of books. Although, Henry rapidly admits that The Percy Jackson Series by author Rick Riordan is far and above his favorite series.
Mrs. Grantham said after an extensive conversation with Henry that he is “Verbally fluent well beyond his years and exhibits knowledge across all content areas. His knowledge and views of historical events and also current world events is astounding for such a young age. There is no doubt that this depth of knowledge could only be built from reading self-selected books in great volume. He is a young man that has an extremely bright future before him!” On Friday, March 15th Henry will travel to Atlanta to represent our region and the Lowndes County School System at the Georgia Statewide Spelling Bee being held at Georgia State College in Atlanta. We wish him great success in this event but are well aware of what a winner he already is and most importantly, he will be a winner in life because he loves to read.