By Greg Gelpi
One middle school student was in "collusion" with a love of reading to claim the 2005 Clayton County Public Schools Spelling Bee title.
Jonesboro Middle School sixth-grade student Micah Gause attributes her spelling prowess to her passion for reading, reading her own collection of books, while moving on to her father's collection.
Surviving round after round as competition was whittled away, Gause found herself in a head-to-head showdown with Hendrix Drive Elementary School student Austin Goodman Wednesday. The two remained on stage amidst lines of empty chairs, where their competitors once stood.
After 10 rounds of back and forth between her and Goodman, Gause sealed the victory by spelling "collusion."
Spelling the word correctly, there was a pause on the stage before receiving acknowledgment that she had in fact spelled it correctly and therefore had won the competition, which had moved into its third hour.
With the applause of those who remained in the Clayton County Schools Performing Arts Center, she turned and shared her joy with her father, who threw his hands up in the air and didn't hold back in showing his pride, yelling his excitement.
"She's always been a brain child anyway, and all she does is read," her father, Michael Gause, said. "They always tried to tell me my child is gifted. I always knew it."
Lorrie McNeill, who teaches Gause, said that her student has an addiction to reading and she sometimes must tell her to put her book away when reading in class.
"It's obvious that the reading is paying off," McNeill said.
She described Micah Gause as "very inquisitive" and "quite verbal."
And her "love of words" is evidenced by her great vocabulary and her writing, McNeill said.
Micah Gause added that she has a photographic memory, which enables her to recall how words are spelled.
Her father said that from "day one," he always knew she was a "little heightened" in her knowledge and intelligence. Her love of reading, especially fantasy books, has outgrown her grade level and expanded to her father's book collection.
"Reading is the key to spelling," he said.
When not reading, she shares her brother's interest in music by playing the violin.
The spelling competition, sponsored by the Clayton County Education Association, had representatives from each elementary and middle school compete to represent the county at the district level competition. As the winner at the county level, Micah Gause earned a trophy and $50.
Other winners in the spelling bee were Goodman with second place, Lovejoy Middle School's Lauren Waring with third place and Adamson Middle School's Jordyn Speakman with fourth place.
Some words that tripped up students along the way, included collywobbles, lackadaisical, crucible and cesspool.