They’re back: Returning spellers seek title

By Denise Dick


Several familiar faces will return to the Chestnut Room stage for The Vindicator’s 80th Regional Spelling Bee.

The event, part of the Scripps National Spelling Bee Competition, will take place March 16 in the Chestnut Room inside Youngstown State University’s Kilcawley Center.

Besides last year’s returning champion, Max Lee, 13, of Canfield Village Middle School, who will try to defend his title, the contest will see other returning spellers as well.

Tamsin Day, 13, of Boardman, a student at Willow Creek Learning Center, who came in second last year, will return for another try at the big trophy and a trip to the national contest.

Aaron Coates, 14, of Niles, a student at St. Rose School in Girard, who placed fourth last year, also is back.

March 16 will be the third bee for Victoria Jones- Burney, 11, of Youngstown, a student at Youngstown Community School, and Kazzi Ervin, 13, of New Middletown, who attends Springfield Intermediate School.

Spelling kind of runs in the families of both Aaron and Victoria.

Aaron’s brother, Michael, competed in the bee in 2008.

Victoria’s mother, Lisa Jones, was a bee contestant in 1990, and her brother, Jabraelyn Jones, competed in 2008.

Both Aaron and Victoria said they’re practicing hard in preparation for the bee.

“I’m studying more every day,” said Victoria, who estimates she spends about an hour per day preparing.

Last year, she studied every couple of days.

One of her family members pronounces the word, and she tries to spell it.

“If I get it right, we just move on, but if I get it wrong, I have to write it down,” she said.

Aaron, who estimates he spends about 20 minutes a day studying his words, says his mother, Mary Ann, reads him a word, and he tries to spell it.

“It’s like it is in the real bee,” he said.

Each also favors particular words when it comes to spelling.

For Victoria, it’s Latin words. “They’re usually spelled like they sound,” she said.

Aaron prefers French words. “I like the way they sound, and the spellings are kind of unique,” he said.

The winner of The Vindicator’s 80th Regional Spelling Bee will compete in the Scripps national event in May in Washington, D.C.

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