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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Friday, February 10, 2006

Kihei sixth-grader sweeps Maui bee

By Christie Wilson
Advertiser Neighbor Island Editor

WAILUKU, Maui Thomas Burton loves ice hockey, but since he moved to Maui from Nova Scotia, Canada, in July, the Lokelani Intermediate sixth-grader has had to occupy himself with other pursuits, like reading, writing and spelling.

Burton, 12, bested 18 other students in last night's 2006 Maui District Spelling Bee at 'Iao Intermediate School.

In the fifth round, with three contestants left, he easily handled "naturalism," then watched as Emily Belcher of Emmanuel Lutheran School missed on "satire" and Mekila Witt-man of Kalama Intermediate on "cranial." Burton claimed the crown in the sixth round by correctly spelling "ammunition."

Belcher and Wittman then engaged in a spell-off to determine who would join Burton at the state Spelling Bee in Honolulu. Belcher, 13, took the runner-up spot after spelling "intertidal" and "legalize."

The winner is the son of Thea Burton of Kihei. His coach, Cyndi Leany, said he is "an avid reader, a great writer and an all-around student."

Burton said his mother and brother Erich, 16, helped him practice for the spelling bee, and when they weren't available, he developed a rigorous system of self-study.

Belcher's parents are Larry and Beth Belcher of Pukalani. The eighth-grader's coach is Heather Mockler.

Reach Christie Wilson at cwilson@honoluluadvertiser.com.