Lay duo wins county-wide Spelling Bee

The super bowl of spelling bees was held at the Knox County Board of Education Annex on Wednesday, February 7, as elementary and middle school students competed to see who would win top honors as the county’s best speller.

One hundred words, eleven rounds, and an hour later, Thoren Hyatt from Lay Elementary clinched the win by correctly spelling the word quarterback.  The spelling bee wasn’t over, as an overtime spell off occurred between R.J. Osborne (Lay) and Jacob Osborne (Barbourville) to see who would earn first and second runner up titles.  The two had previously misspelled their word during the winning round.   In the end, R.J. Osborne earned second place, first runner up, having correctly spelled caboose.

Hyatt and Osborne had also placed first and second respectively in their school bee at Lay.  Throughout the county bee the two could be seen giving each other positive reinforcement, from high fives to nods of achievement.

Hyatt will now represent Knox County at the Kentucky Derby Festival Spelling Bee, an event held in conjunction with the Kentucky Derby Festival, in Louisville later this spring.

The annual spelling bee is coordinated by the Knox County Board of Education and is sponsored by Knox County Farm Bureau, Forcht Bank, and the Barbourville Junior Woman’s Study Club.   The first and second place winners from each school in Knox County, including Barbourville Independent, are eligible to participate. Judges for the event were Harrison Davis, Judith Hinkle, and Claudia Greenwood, all former Knox County educators.  Karl Wallhausser, professor of English at Union College, served as the pronouncer.  Special assistance was provided by Joy McKeehan, Jennifer Carey, Rita Wood, and Bill Matt Dixon.  Frank Shelton coordinates the event for Knox Schools.

Photos from the event are online at