The Vindicator spelling bee champion says he'll deal with being in the national competition one round at a time.
By SEAN BARRON
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
YOUNGSTOWN -- Tom Reid saw the word arcanum in a comic book he was reading and it stuck in his mind. When the time came to correctly spell it, his sharp memory paid off.
As a result, Tom won the 68th annual Vindicator Regional Spelling Bee competition two months ago.
He was rewarded for his effort last week at a Youngstown Rotary Club luncheon, where he received a $100 U.S. Savings Bond and a new wristwatch -- and the support of several community leaders.
Today, Tom is traveling to Washington, D.C., to compete in the 74th annual Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee with 247 of the nation's top spellers.
"I just want you to know that I'll do my best in representing this area," he told the group at the Youngstown Club.
Preparation: The 14-year-old Austintown Middle School eighth-grader has been looking over lists containing other challenging words to prepare for the national competition, which begins Tuesday. The Vindicator is covering his expenses for the six-day trip.
Tom said he realizes he will be competing against "the best of the best," but added he is trying not to succumb to the pressure.
"I just hope to get past each round," he said with nonchalance. "I'll handle each separately." That attitude helped him win in March, Tom noted.
Tom's father, Thomas, said his son's goal in The Vindicator bee was to do better than last year, when he was eliminated in the second round. Mr. Reid praised his son's familiarity with words.
His school's science club and cross-country, track and wrestling teams have competed for Tom's time. However, he has come up with other ways to learn new terms.
What he does: "I do a lot of crossword puzzles in The Vindicator. They've enhanced my sense of spelling." Tom also said he reads a lot of science fiction, Tom Clancy being a favorite.
He also has his mother, Darra, reminding him to study words that are difficult to pronounce, as well as spell. Even with careful preparations, though, a certain amount of luck goes into it, Darra said.
For the past three years, Tom's parents had discussed taking a vacation to our nation's capital. Now, Tom and his family look forward to seeing many of the city's historical sites on bus and bike tours.
The winner of the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee receives a $10,000 cash prize. ESPN will provide live coverage of the final rounds from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 to 3 p.m. Thursday.