By Johnny Jackson
Daniella Noronha quickly recited the letters "c-o-r-p-u-s-c-l-e."
"I know it has something to do with a blood cell, but I'm not really sure," said Daniella Noronha, who recalled the word from her studies weeks ago.
The Eagle's Landing Middle School seventh-grader stood on familiar ground Friday, as she competed against 37 of her peers, and came out as the 2011 Henry County Spelling Bee Champion. She also won the 2009 Henry County Spelling Bee, as a fifth-grader from Hickory Flat Elementary School.
"I feel really good," acknowledged the quiet 12-year-old.
Jenita Stafford, an Eagle's Landing English-Language Arts teacher, accompanied Noronha to the competition. The county spelling bee was held at the Henry County Performing Arts Center in McDonough.
"She's a very intelligent student," said Stafford. "She's very poised. I and her father were probably more nervous than she was."
"We stressed out about all of the kids," interjected Daniella Noronha's father, Alwyn Noronha.
The father said the repeat spelling bee champion missed out on an opportunity to retain the title last year, because she did not win her school-level bee.
"This year, I think she was a little more motivated [to win]," said Alwyn Noronha, noting his daughter has just one more year to compete.
Daniella Noronha, and two other top performers at the spelling bee, received monetary awards donated by the Henry County Association of Educators (HCAE).
HCAE President Theodosia Strange presented Noronha with $100 for her first place finish. Second-place finisher, Kathleen Mabutin, a 9-year-old fourth-grader at New Hope Elementary School, was awarded $50. And thirteen-year-old Katherine Kilcrease, an eighth-grader at Ola Middle School, received $25 for her third-place finish.
"I'm proud of myself for working hard," said Kilcrease, who said she hopes to someday become a psychologist.
An equally-satisfied Mabutin wants to become a paleontologist when she gets older.
Daniella Noronha, who has not decided her career aspirations, said she plans to refocus her energy on preparing for the Georgia Association of Educators' (GAE) District Five Spelling Bee. She and Henry's two runners-up will take part in the district-level bee, scheduled to take place on Feb. 26., at 10 a.m., at Mundy's Mill Middle School, in Jonesboro, according to Beth Scarboro, Henry's English-Language Arts Coordinator.
Scarboro said if the spellers are successful at the district-level they could go on to compete in the GAE State Spelling Bee on March 18.