How do you spell “dual winners”?

This year’s Marion County Spelling Bee ended with two champions.

2024 Marion County Spelling Bee Champions Cali Godwin and Kathy Ly [Photo courtesy Marion County Public Schools]

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Posted January 31, 2024 | Staff report

Seventeen middle school students from throughout Marion County went head-to-head the evening of Jan. 30 to become Marion County’s 2024 Spelling Bee champions.

The 22nd annual event ended after 22 rounds, including the last 18 with just two students battling it out for the title. Both were named as the top spellers following the judges’ decision to end the event with dual winners, according to the news release from Marion County Public Schools.

Cali Godwin, an eighth grader at Belleview Middle School, and Kathy Ly, a seventh grader at Liberty Middle School, walked away as champions, each winning a medal and cash prize from the Woman’s Club of Ocala, the event’s long-time sponsor along with MCPS.

While Godwin and Ly collectively had five opportunities to capture the individual title by spelling a championship word, the two winning words ended up being “stigmata” and “ulna.”

Participating students represented Belleview, Blessed Trinity, Dunnellon, Fort King, Fort McCoy, Horizon Academy at Marion Oaks, Howard, Lake Weir, Liberty and Osceola middle schools.

The spelling bee was held inside the Browne Greaton Cole Auditorium at the Marion Technical Institute in Ocala. Though recorded live for the MCPS YouTube Channel (@MarionCountyK12), the event will not air until April 1 to protect the Scripps word list and integrity of the national competition.

To learn about the national endeavor, go to


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