C-L-O-W-D-E-R: It’s a group of cats, and it almost stopped third-time spelling champ

Published 9:49 am Thursday, February 16, 2023

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By Mike Barnhardt

Enterprise Record

You could tell by the expression on Porter Spann’s face when he heard the word “clowder” at the Davie County Schools’ annual spelling bee last week that he wasn’t sure what he was hearing.

A two-time county spelling champion who finished 12th in the region twice and recently won the state Beta Club spelling contest, the North Davie Middle School eighth grader was perplexed, but not shaken.

Behind him was Olivia Rareshide, and eighth grade student at William Ellis Middle School, competing in her second county bee. The look on her face revealed she knew that word.

Porter asked facilitator Dr. Danny Cartner every question he could: if there is an alternative pronunciation, to have it used in a sentence, the definition, etc.

He misspelled the word.

Olivia did not.

But in a spelling bee and there’s only two contestants left, the winner must spell the word missed by the other contestant, and then spell another word to be declared the winner.

Olivia had trouble with “ramifications,” and Porter went on to spell “lackneed” for the win.

After the bee, Porter admitted he didn’t remember the word – even after years of studying words just for moments like this one. “I’ve studied a good bit, and knew it was either ‘clowder’ or ‘clauder’.”

He chose the wrong one.

The son of Jennifer and Nolan Spann, he hopes to improve in the regional competition. “I’m going for at least the top 10.”

Third place in the bee went to Addyson Adkins, a sixth grader at South Davie Middle.

Other contestants and school winners: Delaney James, Cooleemee Elementary; Skylar Ayers, Cornatzer Elementary; Stella Brock, Mocksville Elementary; Olivia Stanley, Pinebrook Elementary; Will Weaver, Shady Grove Elementary; Emerson Hewitt, William R. Davie Elementary; and Dev Gandhi, Davie County Schools Virtual.

By the way, a “clowder” is a group of cats.