Published March 26, 2009
Her journey began at St. Jude the Apostle School, where the Dunwoody resident has been a student since kindergarten. She won the spelling bee at her school, earning her a spot in the archdiocesan spelling bee. Another win there allowed her to compete on a larger scale at the 2009 Georgia Independent School Association Spelling Bee.
Each of the 132 eligible private schools in Georgia, which are represented by GISA, sent two students to preliminary rounds on Feb. 12, held at several locations throughout the state. There were 264 participating students in the contest, slimmed down to 20 in the span of a couple of weeks.
The top 20 students squared off at Tattnall Square Academy, Macon, the afternoon of Feb. 26 for the final round of the 2009 GISA Spelling Bee.
Denniss advanced, along with the second place contestant, to compete in the state finals, held at Georgia State University, Atlanta, on March 20.
The top two spellers from each of the nine public school zones joined the two GISA winners. Contestants included children from public and private schools, as well as home-schooled children.
Denniss placed first and is now the proud owner of a large trophy, as well as $400, a $100 savings bond and all-expense-paid trip to Washington, D.C., for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
She and the second-place winner will travel to the national bee at the end of May. Although dubbed national, this competition includes students from other countries, such as Canada, New Zealand and Jamaica.
While Denniss is obviously skilled in the art of spelling, she is very active in several other ways. She has earned a red belt in karate and also enjoys playing the flute, piano and electric guitar. She participates in two drama groups.
“We are just bursting with joy at her accomplishments,” said Kathy Davis, curriculum coordinator for St. Jude the Apostle School.
“What a great honor for her and … a reflection of our school and our parents who are very involved.”