By Harold Gwin
Two tough competitors from past Vindicator Regional Spelling Bees will be back on stage for the 77th version of the contest Saturday.
Andrew Rossi, who finished second last year, and Julia Miglets, who finished third the last two years, will represent their schools again when the bee begins at 9 a.m. in the Chestnut Room of Kilcawley Center at Youngstown State University.
Both are eighth-graders.
Andrew, 13, son of Becky and Gregg Rossi of Springfield Township, has participated in the regional bee three times before. He will represent Holy Family School as its champion.
Julia, 13, daughter of Laura and David Miglets of Poland, also has been in three regional events. She is Springfield Intermediate School’s champion this year.
A total of 66 students from across Mahoning and Trumbull counties are scheduled to participate. The top prize is an all-expense-paid trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., at the end of May.
Despite his experience, Andrew admits being “a little” nervous.
He and his family engage in spelling games while traveling in the car but, for the most part, he said he reviews the words on the spelling list provided by the bee as he prepares for the event.
He’s always been a good speller and has been reading since the age of 4, his mother said.
Andrew qualified for state competition in the annual MATHCOUNTS contest at YSU, but the state competition is the same day as the Vindicator Regional Spelling Bee. He opted to participate in the bee, his mother said.
Besides spelling, Andrew enjoys playing basketball, playing his Xbox video game and golf.
Julia, who represented Byzantine Catholic Central School as a fifth-grader, was also an early reader, getting interested in books at age 4.
She said she used only the bee list of words to study last year but heard a lot of words at the bee that weren’t on the list. She’s altered her studying method to focus more on working with a dictionary this year, she said, noting she spends about 25 minutes a day in review.
Julia participates in cross country and is a member of the Western Reserve Rangers 4-H Club, focusing on creative writing this year. She’s served on her school yearbook committee and has been involved in the Middle School Academic Challenge.
She offered some advice to first-year participants.
“Learn as many words as you can, and don’t be nervous,” she said.