Fifth grader Luciana Hemphill confidently approached the microphone and correctly spelled the championship word “segregation” to win The Bright School Spelling Bee on Tuesday. After she quickly spelled the word and was declared the winner, she gasped and put her hands to her mouth as fellow students clapped and cheered.

Fellow fifth grader Ava Gallien correctly spelled her final word “callous” to take second place, and fourth grader Piper Ryan was third. The three girls will represent Bright in the next round of the 2017-18 Scripps National Spelling Bee against other private school and home school students in the area.

There were 34 fourth and fifth graders who competed in the bee. The judges were Assistant Head of School Christy Lusk, librarian Elizabeth Oakes and school counselor Nicole Smith. Head of School O.J. Morgan pronounced each word for the spellers.

Early rounds included words like shed, pesky, hutch and compost. Luciana correctly spelled rose, welcome, lazily, protesting, disguise, testament, opponent, correctional and cyclops before the winning word. Ava also spelled handiwork, regents and cipher, and Piper had shortage, infraction and administration in the final rounds. Luciana said she studied so much the paper list became wrinkled and tattered.