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Winchester student winner of fourth Spelling Bee

Andrew Toney (left), a student at Lee L. Driver Middle School in Winchester, was the winner of the 2019 WIPB Spelling Bee. The first runner-up was Trooper Bullock (middle) from Wes-Del Jr./Sr. High School and the second runner-up was Mahathi Raju, a student at Yorktown Middle School.

MUNCIE — After 35 rounds, Andrew Toney spelled his way to the top spot at the fourth WIPB-TV Spelling Bee.

After the competition ended, Toney, a student at Lee L. Driver Middle School in Winchester, said he was feeling “very nice.”

Toney, a seventh grade student, will now go on to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May near Washington, D.C.

Fifty school champions from Delaware, Jay, Blackford, Randolph, Madison and Henry counties competed this year in Sursa Performance Hall, on the campus of Ball State University.

The first runner-up was Trooper Bullock from Wes-Del Jr./Sr. High School and the second runner-up was Mahathi Raju, a student at Yorktown Middle School.

WIPB broadcast the regional bee live. A recording of the broadcast is available at www.wipb.org.

Pronouncer was BSU English professor Lynne Stallings. Judges were Stephanie Wiechmann, host of Indiana Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” and Monique Armstrong, Assistant Director of Community Development for the City of Muncie. Recorder was Kamna Agarwal, occupational therapist a long-time spelling bee coach.

Ball State University Teachers College contributed the funds to cover the Scripps fees for all of the schools to participate. Anita Welch, Associate Dean of Ball State Teachers College was on hand to watch the competition and congratulate the winners.

“These are our future, all of these students,” she said. “It is our obligation as educators to help them succeed in all their aspirations.”

Toney was first runner-up in last year’s WIPB Spelling Bee and through the Scripps RSVBee Program, he traveled to the national competition. RSVBee was launched by the Scripps National Spelling Bee last year to provide an opportunity for more spellers to participate in the National Finals in the Washington, D.C., area. The invitational program provides an additional path for spelling champions to experience Bee Week and compete in the national finals.

Last year’s WIPB Spelling Bee champion was Alesya Rathinasamy, now a sixth-grader at Burris Laboratory School. Caleb Roberts, a student at Heritage Hall Christian School, won the 2017 bee, and the champ in 2016 was Samantha Academia, now a student at Yorktown High School.

Presenting sponsors of the 2019 WIPB Spelling Bee were Family Vision Care and MutualBank. Other supporting sponsors include Avila Orthodontics; Dr. Leland C. Wilhoite, DDS, and Boyce Systems. The Speller Shirts Sponsor are the employees of Navient and the Championship Word Sponsor is The Muncie Optimist Club

A Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) affiliate, WIPB-TV is licensed to Ball State University and serves nearly 1.5 million people in east central Indiana and western Ohio. WIPB endeavors to educate, entertain and engage the communities we serve through distinctive television programs and enriching community engagement. For more information call 800-252-9472 or visit WIPB online at www.wipb.org.