While Lauren couldn't conquer "edification" in the 29th round on Saturday, she was able to outlast Ruthlawn Elementary School fifth-grader Rushik Patel for second place.
Lauren has faired well in previous competitions and spelling bee coordinator Barbara Jones was impressed by her effort.
"For three years, those girls have been first place and runner-up," Jones said. "They were very meticulous in their spelling."
"Meticulous" accurately describes Kathryn's strategy at the mic. Even if she knows how to spell a word as soon as the judge says it, she still likes to go through her routine.
She asks the pronouncer to use the word in a sentence and give her the word's definition and language of origin. Her advice for other spelling bee contenders is simple.
"Just spell slowly," Kathryn said.
She'll try to use those techniques to her advantage when she competes against students from 22 other counties in the Gazette-Mail Regional Spelling Bee later this year.
Lauren will represent Kanawha County as well, as two students from each county qualify for the event.
Kathryn's mom said her daughter didn't fare as well as she hoped in her first trip to the regional bee, but she's pretty sure Kathryn advanced to the sixth round last year. Both are confident Kathryn will do even better this year.
"I am definitely going to study a lot," Kathryn said.
Serving as judges on Saturday were Kanawha Circuit Judge Duke Bloom; retired State Police officer Raymond Stonestreet; and Eva Ledbetter, a mentor with Kanawha County Schools.
The regional bee is scheduled for March 16 at Capital High School. It is co-sponsored by the College Foundation of West Virginia (cfwv.com) and the West Virginia Automobile and Truck Dealers Association.
The SMART529 program again will award the regional champion with a $2,500 college savings account, and the event will be televised by WSAZ's MyZ TV.
The regional champion will represent the Gazette-Mail in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, held every spring near Washington, D.C.