She may have been one of the youngest competitors, but that didn’t stop Julia Vallier from taking top honors at the Forsyth County Schools Spelling Bee.
On Saturday, representatives from all 28 elementary and middle schools in the public system vied for the title of best speller.
Each had won their respective schoolwide spelling bee for the chance to compete at the county level.
They gathered Saturday morning at North Forsyth High School’s performing arts center, with a crowd of family members and friends cheering them on.
After more than 10 rounds of competition, Vallier, a fourth-grader from Chestatee Elementary, claimed the crown by properly spelling “exuberant.”
She was last elementary student standing.
“I didn’t think I was going to win,” Vallier said. “I was really scared. I can’t believe I did better than the middle schoolers.”
Vallier and Logan Ballard from Liberty Middle were the last two spellers.
They battled through the final round, spelling words such as “partition,” “bounteous” and “cantankerous.”
Second and third runners-up were Rachel Walter of Lakeside and Jesse Smith of Little Mill middle schools.
Walter was not originally scheduled to compete. She was Lakeside’s alternate to the school’s winner, Grant Gerwit, who was unable to attend Saturday.
Vallier, Ballard and Walter will all move on to district competition, which is set for 10 a.m. Feb. 25 at Mabry Middle School in Marietta.
Smith will serve as an alternate at that competition, which is open to the public.
Polly Tennies, principal of Chestatee, said she was “so proud” of Vallier.
“She has talent,” Tennies said. “This is just the start of many great things for her.”
Vallier’s mother, Angela, and younger sister, Sydney, both rooted for her from the audience.
“I thought she’d do really good,” said Sydney Vallier, 7. “I voted for her.”
Added her mother: “I told her that no matter what happened I was proud of her.”