Students' spelling skills were put to the test as area schools participated in their annual spelling bees.
Students were encouraged to participate in the events Friday because spelling is so important to success in school.
"I didn't even want to be in the spelling bee, but my teacher said it would be nice if I was in there. I said okay and thought I was going to get out in the second round and I wasn't going to care," said Melanie Russell, a seventh grade student at West Lauderdale, who took first place.
Smokey Ethridge earned second place in the spelling bee. They will both go on to the next round, which will be held in Meridian.