VICENZA, Italy (February 5, 2019) -- Championship Bee 2019 brought challenges and hard-fought word battles to this year's competition on the evening of Jan. 30 in the Vicenza Elementary School/Vicenza Middle School Multi-Purpose Room/Cafeteria.

Twenty VES/VMS students challenged each other as the 9th Annual VES/VMS Spelling Bee Championship, sponsored by the Vicenza Schools Parent Teacher Student Association, took place.

Round 1 took four casualties as the words "peasantry," "martyr," "garbanzo," "couriers" and "Xanadu" brought down five contestants during the first round. Three more students lost out to "clich├ęs," "promenade" and "gondolier" in Round 2. The words "antecedents," and "sumptuous" defeated two more spellers during Round 3. Ten remaining students bravely made it through Round 4; however, in Round 5 one student lost out to "asseveration" and another student fell to the word "aphorism." (Later, a parent appeal would reinstate one student.)

Round 6 saw three more students defeated by "auf Wiedersehen," "recoup," and "fruition." (Again, a parent and teacher appeal would reinstate one more speller. Although the judges remained united in their original decisions, lead Judge, Dr. Noni Hoag after conferring with Bee sponsors and PTSA board members and the other three judges, made a magnanimous decision to allow the two elementary students to retake their spots in the competition.) One more student struggled with "fruition" and lost the battle, completing Round 6.

Competition remained fierce as the last four students battled it out during Round 7. Two VES students, Joey Ajebe and Abigail Reeder versus two VMS students, Brandon Easler and Asenath Wetzel, remained standing. Ajebe and Easler were defeated in Rounds 7 and 8, leaving Reeder and Wetzel to compete furiously for first and second place. Round after round took place with either child eligible for first place. Twelve rounds later (Round 20), Reeder was defeated by the word "effulgent." Wetzel went on to spell "heliocentric" and "transcendental" to earn first place and emerge as the 2019 Spelling Bee Champion for the second year in a row.

Wetzel, an eighth-grader, is eligible to represent both schools in the European PTSA Spelling Bee at Ramstein ES in Ramstein, Germany, Feb. 23. Reeder, who is in fifth grade and in second place, is the alternate for Wetzel if she is unable to represent the school in Germany. Easler, a seventh-grader, in third place, is also eligible to represent the school if the first two winners are not able to attend.

The winner of the DoDDS European Regional Bee goes on to represent DoDDS-Europe in the National Scripps Spelling Bee in Washington. Vicenza Schools have had the distinct honor of sending regional winners to the national bee in Washington in 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Students who participated in the spelling bee were:
Asenath Wetzel
Abigail Reeder
Brandon Easler
Taetumn Roque-Bautista
Joey Adjebe
Daithon Dowling
Luis Ortiz
Elizabeth Clover
Easton Timme
Delia Gordon
Codi West-Sparks
Catherine O'Leary
Kaylee Schorn
Daniel Easler
Colin Urquilla
Nylan Coyle
Sarra Romeu
Mary Kemmer
Julia DeJardin
Daniel Bermudez