UPDATED: Thomas Jefferson sixth grader wins Joplin Globe spelling bee

Mar. 13—With the correct spelling of the words "colloquial" and "nystagmus," Thomas Jefferson Independent Day School sixth grader Grayson Bruffett proved that hard studying pays off with a win in the 44th annual Joplin Globe spelling bee.

"I just feel ecstatic that I won the spelling bee on my last chance to be in the bee," said Bruffett, the son of Mr. and Mrs. Shannon Bruffett. "I was able to get both of the trophies this year. Last year, I got to the semifinal round and got knocked out on the word 'pillory.' This year, they moved that word up the harder list."

Bruffett outlasted 45 other fourth, fifth and sixth grade students from across the Joplin area to take the first-place trophy Monday. He said he's excited to be named on the list of winners the Globe publishes every year when it announces the spelling bee.

"I'll be on that list for every single year from now on," he said. "It makes me feel like a celebrity."

Second place in the 2023 spelling bee went to Lauren Peyton Alexander, a sixth grade student at South Middle School in Joplin. The daughter of Clifford and Maria Alexander, she previously took third place in the 2022 bee.

"It was nerve-wracking," Alexander said. "Practicing was boring, but my parents would read me the words and I would spell them. We went over the hardest words this time. We would go over a page and do it twice."

Third place went to Emery Spencer, fifth grader at Stapleton Elementary School in Joplin, who dropped on the word "lienholder." She is the daughter of Kayla and James Spencer.

"Since I've never been here before, it's really exciting," Spencer said. "It feels good to be in the top three."

Round one saw nine spellers knocked out on words such as "manual" and "leech."

Round two was significantly harder, with 21 spellers dropping out on words like "calumny," "poultice" and "sleuth."

Another five spellers fell out in the third round on words like "cabaret" and "lynx," leaving 10 spellers in a quarterfinal round. Six students competed in one more round, with three falling out, giving the final three for the final round.

Calleigh Anderson, fourth grader at Kelsey Norman Elementary School in Joplin, said she was happy to make it to the top 10.

"My brother got out in this event, so it feels pretty good," Anderson said. "He got out in round two. I feel pretty good about myself. My parents and some friends would quiz me and that prepared me for the spelling bee. I also write the words down in a notebook and then practice them."

Her parents, Wesley and Candice Anderson, said she worked hard leading up to the spelling bee.

"We didn't have to make any deals or bargains with her," Candice Anderson said. "She studied pretty well for this. We're pretty proud of her. She worked hard and did a lot of it on her own, and we're just proud of her no matter what happens."