Rachel Burdge, an eighth-grader at South Central Middle School, won the event by spelling the word "affiliation." Cass Middle School eighth-grader Holly Hawkins was the runner up.
"I'm so happy for [my daughter]," mother Clariza Burdge said. "I know she didn't prepare much, but then she won."
Burdge will go on to represent Bartow County at the regional spelling bee in Rome on Saturday, Feb. 25. The winner of the regional spelling be will go on to represent their county at the state competition before heading to the national competition.
"There's a national spelling bee in Washington D.C. and I'm available to go with whoever wins," long-time spelling bee coordinator Dot Frasier said to the crowd, which responded with laughter. "... Spelling doesn't need to be a lost art, and I just appreciate the boys and girls that continue to be enthused and to study and to keep up with spelling ..."
Keeping her composure during the dozen-plus rounds, Rachel Burdge said her goal wasn't necessarily to win the competition.
"I was pretty shocked [to win]," Burdge said. "... I just wanted to do my best, I didn't care if I won or not."
If Burdge is unable to attend the regional competition, Hawkins will go in her place.
This year's Bartow County Spelling Bee contestants:
Andrew Scott -- Adairsville Elementary
Sequoyah Linley -- Allatoona Elementary
Holly Hawkins -- Cass Middle
Zak Thacker -- Clear Creek Elementary
Dani Zhanje -- Emerson Elementary
Toby Queen -- Euharlee Elementary
Evan Maddox -- Hamilton Crossing
Ashley Curtis -- Kingston Elementary
Rylee Moss -- Pine Log Elementary
Rachel Burdge -- South Central Middle
Forrest Turner -- Taylorsville Elementary
Logan Bennett -- White Elementary