Do you know the word "aubergine," which is another word for eggplant? Would you be able to spell it correctly in front of an audience at a spelling bee? Natalie Leveque is the spelling champion of Folly Quarter Middle School, and she achieved that position after 50 rounds of intense spelling, culminating with aubergine. Isha Srivastava was the runner-up in the spelling bee, and also the winner of Folly Quarter's first vocabulary bee.

Claire Waddington was the winner of the fifth annual Folly Quarter Geo Bee. Waddington will now complete the 2014 qualifying test to have a chance at competing in the state level competition. Spelling bee champion, Leveque, was runner up in the Geo Bee, and Janis Niv placed third.

At Dayton Oaks Elementary School, fourth grader, Mehar was the winner of the spelling bee, and fifth grader Bethany Beall was the runner up. Mehar will compete in the Howard County Library System spelling bee in March at Reservoir High School. The champion of that contest advances to the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

The Howard County Library System also sponsors the BumbleBee, which is designed to help first, second and third grade students build vocabularies, learn spelling tips and gain confidence in front of an audience. Third grader Poppy Knerr was the winner of the BumbleBee from Dayton Oaks.

At Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School the spelling champion was fifth grader Alexander Liu, and the runner up was Brian Vance, also in fifth grade. Liu will represent Triadelphia Ridge at the county contest.

The Young Authors Contest is a poetry and short story contest that is held through Maryland. Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School students submitted a record-breaking 59 entries this year. From that impressive number of entries, the second grade school winners were Natalie Spiegel and Gouri Gupta, in the poem category, and Sienna Gowda for short story. Third grade winners were Erin Larson, for poem, and Kyle Aiello and Lauren Reeves for short stories. From the fourth grade, winners were Vivian Yao for poem and Rachel Soubier for short story. Fifth grade winners were Nimisha Seshadri and Nikki Wildy for poems, and Nicole Cifuentes for short story.

All of these winning entries from Triadelphia Ridge went on to the Howard County competition where Gouri Gupta's poem placed second. Gupta will be honored by the Howard County reading council and will be invited to read her poem at Barnes and Noble.

Triadelphia Ridge fifth grade poet Nicole Wildy is also a talented trombone player. She was selected to participate in the Howard County Elementary School Gifted and Talented Band. Wildy prepared and competed in a rigorous audition for this highly selective group which will perform a concert in the spring.

Do you have a formerly loved musical instrument that needs a new home? The ECHO Project is just the place to donate your used band or orchestra instrument. ECHO stands for Every Child Has Opportunities — in Music, and is sponsored by the Howard County Parents for School Music and Music and Arts Center.

All donations will be used to help schools supply instruments to students who could not otherwise afford one. Donated instruments should be in good, playable condition. A receipt for tax purposes will be provided if you request one.

Specific instruments that are needed include the traditional string instruments, woodwind instruments and brass instruments. Donations will be accepted at the Howard County Solo and Ensemble Festival on Saturday, Feb. 1, at Mt. Hebron High School. The snow date is Saturday, Feb. 8. If you have questions, contact Berni Giroux at bernigiroux@aol.com.