FLORENCE — A Friday afternoon with only two weeks left in the school year is bound to garner some commotion, even some clowning around, but a gym full of Florence Carlton Falcons sat practically silent for Friday’s special presentation.
“We’re going to honor Carter Rayburn this afternoon,” said presenter Matthew Henry, director of the Montana Spelling Bee.
Carter first won his classroom spelling bee, then his school spelling bee, then the county spelling bee, and now, he’s decorated with a shiny new medal for defeating 59 students in Montana’s statewide spelling competition.
The accomplishment left his dad, who doubles as his superintendent, beaming during Friday’s presentation. “I’m pretty excited for him because he’s always wanted to succeed in this competition,” said Superintendent Brian Rayburn. “His older brother made it to state and he wanted to continue in his footsteps. I’m just proud he’s made it this far.”
When you win that big -- you have to give the people what they want. In this case, that meant spelling one of his most challenging words, heleoplankton, in front of a gym full of classmates.
Carefully thinking of each letter, Carter spelled the word correctly, earning a hardy applause from the once silent crowd.
The preparation for a spelling competition is a daily effort, according to Carter. He practices every night, studying lists of the most challenging words he can find online.
Now that he’s won the state title, he’ll compete in the competition for the National Scripps Spelling Bee.
“There will be a preliminary round and I’ll receive a laptop from the spelling bee people, and I’ll log on and there will just be the announcer there and he’ll tell me my word and the vocab meaning, and that’s it for the preliminaries,” said Carter.
From prelims to quarter finals to semi finals to the big showdown in Orlando, where, if he makes it that far, Carter will compete with only a dozen other finalists at the ESPN Sports Complex at Disney World.
The winner’s earnings are substantial, coming in at $50,000.
Like any good son, with his father standing nearby, he knows just what to do with the earnings if he wins. “I’d just give it all to my dad,” exclaimed Carter.
Remembering he’s on the record with MTN News, he quickly corrected himself, “That can be edited out, right?”
Carter will compete in the preliminary competition on June 12th. He told MTN News he has a lot of studying to do before then.