Albion 4th grader wins WNY spelling bee

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 May 2017 at 8:19 am

Provided photos: Adam Burlison, 10, of Albion holds his trophy after winning a spelling bee on Saturday in Grand Island.

ALBION — An Albion fourth-grader won a spelling bee on Saturday that featured 46 of the top spellers in Western New York from grades 4 and 5.

Adam Burlison, 10, was perfect as the field of spellers was winnowed from 46 to 1. The second-place finisher misspelled “heritage.” After Adam spelled it right, he sealed his victory with the word, “sentimental.”

It was a heart-pounding 2 1/2 hour event for many in the Albion community. Adam’s mother Lisa, an Albion elementary school teacher, posted the competition on Facebook live. When Adam won, the bus for the Albion marching band burst into cheers and applause. The band was coming home from the Lilac Festival in Rochester.

Adam’s father is the late Wayne Burlison, the assistant marching band director and elementary school band teacher. Wayne was 36 when he died from colon cancer on March 26, 2014.

The announcer at the spelling bee used each of the words in the contest in sentence. For “sentimental,” the announcer said: “Sentimental. She gave her father a sentimental card for Father’s Day. Sentimental.”

Adam was like a machine as he spelled his words – geothermal, successful, voluntary, stockade, fantastic, dilute, ventricle and many others.

Adam Burlison competed against 45 other top spellers. His winning word: “sentimental.”

He was one of three Albion students at the competition in Grand Island. Madison Banker and Sawyer Brigham also competed. All three students are in Meghan Kania’s class. Sawyer also finished in the top 10.

The final three in the spelling bee made it through all of “expert” words on the fourth grade list. Then the judges asked words from a fifth grade list that contestants didn’t study.

Adam has honed his spelling skills by reading lots of books, his mother said. His favorite books are fiction/fantasy, which Mrs. Burlison said have a lot of unusual words.

The closed captioning also is on the TV in the Burlison home because Lisa has a slight hearing loss.

“I realized at an early age that he was learning to read from that as well,” she said about the words on TV.

She thanked his friends at school for helping prepare him for the spelling bee. They asked him words over lunch in the cafeteria.

“It really was a community effort,” Lisa said.

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