Scott Middle School crowned its spelling bee champ Tuesday at the Denison Independent School District Administration Building.

After several rounds of eliminations, seventh grade student Ashley Dorius took first place and eighth grader Jaiden Bates was named runner up. Both students will attend the Grayson County spelling bee on Feb. 14 at 1 p.m. on Grayson College’s Van Alstyne campus. The local competitions are branches of the larger Scripps National Spelling Bee competition.

Students first competed within their individual English classes and the 13 winners of those competitions were given the opportunity to compete at the district level. Dorius, who is new to the area, said she is excited but also nervous about her win.

“I didn’t even think I was going to make it today,” Dorius said. “I have been studying. I’ve only ever done a spelling bee since I started here. I’m from Omaha, Nebraska. We moved here for my dad’s work about six months ago.”

Ashley Dorius’ father Tim Dorius, who helped serve as her pronouncer when studying at home, said he was very proud.

“I’m very happy for her,” Tim Dorius said. “She’s put in some hard work. We have been studying together but she does most of the work. She’s very independent.”

Ashley Dorius explained she has always enjoyed reading so she has learned a lot of words.

“I am a reading and language arts person,” Ashley Dorius said. “Words are my favorite. My favorite book is Harry Potter.”

Denison ISD Director of Instruction Shonda Cannon said Ashley Dorius’ strategy of writing the words with her finger may have helped her win.

“I have seen that strategy a lot,” Cannon said. “More than anything, I think it just gives her a chance to visualize and maybe connect that to muscle memory by writing the word. The other thing is that I think it allows her to focus on the word and slow down. I thought that our spellers did a really good job today asking for definitions and asking to use it in a sentence.”

Cannon went on to explain the district will have two winners compete at the county level. Students from B. McDaniel Intermediate School will compete Thursday morning to determine a winner and runner up. The winners from Tuesday’s and Thursday’s competitions will then go on to compete in the county spelling bee.

“And if they were to win that one, then they earn the right to compete in the regional bee in Dallas,” Cannon said. “Ultimately, we could have a speller at Washington, D.C.”

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is often referred to simply as the National Spelling Bee. The competition is held annually in the U.S. and run by the not-for-profit E.W. Scripps Company. The national competition is held at a convention center in Washington, D.C. the week following Memorial Day weekend each year.

Cannon said there is always a mixture of nerves and excitement from the student spellers, but taking part in the local bee is an accomplishment.

“They all need to be proud,” Cannon said. “Every one of those spellers had won their class spelling bee. They’re all champions. They’re just now at a different level. We are very proud of their performance today.”