By Denise Dick
Annabelle Day outspelled 50 other Mahoning Valley middle and elementary school students to earn the title Grand Champion in Saturday’s 81st Vindicator Regional Spelling Bee.
She correctly spelled yesteryear for the win.
Annabelle, 12, of Boardman, a seventh-grader at Willow Creek Learning Center in Boardman, was competing for the first time this year. Her older sister, Tamsin, was the runner-up both last year and in 2012.
“I just read over the words, and my dad quizzed me on them,” Annabelle said.
Those were daily sessions. She also studied the word origins and definitions.
Knowing the origins helps her know how to spell the words. Besides members of her family, Annabelle brought along two Winnie the Pooh bears to the bee for good luck.
She also watched her older sister compete in previous years and decided she wanted to test her spelling skills against students from across the Valley, too. Her win gives her bragging rights with her older sister.
The bee started in the Chestnut Room of Youngstown State University’s Kilcawley Center with 51 competitors. After the first round, the number had dwindled to 33. At the end of round six, five spellers remained.
Annabelle; Alex Stoneman, a St. Charles School seventh-grader; Cole McKenna, a Struthers Elementary fourth-grader; Lindsay Davis, a Canfield Elementary eighth-grader; and Morgan Smith, a seventh-grader at Discovery School at Kirkmere in Youngstown, remained.
The five battled it out for four rounds before Alex misspelled regatta in round 11. Then in round 12, Cole stumbled with aflutter.
That left the three girls, who went for four more rounds before Lindsay misspelled wrinkly and Morgan misspelled sockeye. Annabelle then had to correctly spell tottered and yesteryear to win the title.
Morgan is the runner-up, and Lindsay finished in third place. Both girls received trophies, dictionaries and other prizes.
Morgan’s second place is the highest finish in the bee for a Youngstown City School student in at least 13 years.
As the winner of the bee, Annabelle will represent the Mahoning Valley at the 87th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in late May.
About 270 of the best spellers in the country will face off in the national competition, which begins May 28.
The Vindicator will pay for transportation, hotel accommodations and other expenses for the trip for Annabelle and her adult chaperone.
She also got a first-place trophy from the newspaper, gift cards from the Rotary Club of Youngstown and the Downtown Kiwanis Club, a flower arrangement from Burkland Flowers of Youngstown, a Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award and a copy of “These Hundred Years — A Chronicle of the Twentieth Century.”
Annabelle, the daughter of Alan and Dr. Trang Day, doesn’t plan to alter her study strategy in preparation for the national bee. She’ll continue to review the words, and if the pronouncer gives her a word with which she’s unfamiliar, she’ll ask questions about its definition and origin and then request it be used in a sentence.
While in Washington for the Scripps National Bee, students go on tours of historic sites and participate in activities arranged for spellers.
The annual Vindicator Regional Spelling Bee has been a Mahoning Valley tradition since 1934. Students from all over Mahoning County and parts of Trumbull County win their individual school spelling bees to advance to the Vindicator contest. Each contestant received a Merriam-Webster 11th Edition Collegiate dictionary, courtesy of the newspaper, a Vindicator T-shirt, a school certificate and other prizes.