"Chinchilla," "prescription" and "android" — these were among the words fourth- and fifth-grade students spelled letter by letter in front of their family and teachers at the 2018 Tehachapi Unified School District Spelling Bee.

The audience Thursday evening encouraged participants with applause and smiles as the final, 14th round approached and the winner correctly spelled the word "canine." All students were given medals, certificates and swag bags with local prizes from community businesses.

“I can’t be perfectly happy because I feel bad for people who didn’t win and I know they tried really hard, but everybody’s a winner in my eyes," said 11-year-old Priscilla Sturz, holding her golden trophy as the winner of the spelling bee.

Participant Andrew McKinney said, “I enjoyed doing the spelling bee with everyone and my mom and dad helped me out a lot.”

The six participating students — Hailey Finch, McKinney, Grant Warner, Autumn Johnson, Sturz and Stephen Meek — came from Cummings Valley, Golden Hills and Tompkins elementary schools. They made it to the district’s final round by competing with other students at their school location. The winner will go on to compete in the KERO Channel 23 spelling bee in Bakersfield on March 5. 

Janine Tuffs, the learning director at Jacobsen Middle School, said a big thank you goes out to parents for the good sportsmanship and for the volunteer work from the American Association of University Women of Tehachapi.

“I thought it was very well done and the children were composed,” said Jessica Meek, mother of Stephen Meek.