By Amanda Tonoli
Third- and fourth- time Vindicator Regional Spelling Bee returnees have the same goal for their last competition – to go home with a win.
Eighth-graders Nina Dill, Montessori School of the Mahoning Valley student, and Nick DeBucci, Springfield Intermediate School student, will battle 44 other spelling bee participants Saturday morning at Youngstown State University.
Nina said although she’s excited to go to the bee again, she was disappointed she didn’t win last year.
“I guess you just have got to go with it,” she said.
This year, Nina scored her place into the spelling competition on the word “silica.”
She will always remember her first year qualifying for the bee when she correctly spelled the word “truth.”
“I just love to participate,” she said. “It’s nice having kids look up to you. The whole experience is fun.”
And the fun isn’t limited to Nina’s spelling bee experiences but to other areas of her life, as well.
“I love to read, and sometimes I try to treat everything like reading a good book,” Nina said.
Nina also enjoys writing poems, writing for school assignments and reading about history.
Valerie Dill, Nina’s mother, said although her family is full of avid readers, Nina sticks out.
“Nina has just this penchant for language arts,” Valerie said.
Nick does, too.
In addition to Nick’s spelling skills, he enjoys reading.
Realistic fiction novels and those included in the Youngstown State University English Festival make their way onto Nick’s reading list.
Beyond language arts, Nick also has a knack for math.
“Nick has a genius IQ,” said Tiffany DeBucci, Nick’s mother. “He skipped seventh- and eighth-grade math and is now in geometry. He’s advanced.”
In his free time, Nick enjoys what most 14-year-olds enjoy: video games.
But when he’s not indulging in reading, playing video games, playing the trumpet in the band, and walking his dog Luna, Nick also volunteers.
During the week, Nick helps kindergarten students sharpen their skills by playing academic games or administering tests.
To Nick, the experience he’s gaining is personally rewarding, he said.
And personally rewarding is an accurate description of their participation in the Bee, Nina and Nick agreed
Valerie Dill said the bee’s tradition is good for everyone involved.
“It helps strengthen study skills and gives students exposure to Youngstown State University,” she said.
Other returnees for their second year in the competition are Daniella Cene, Austintown Middle School seventh-grader; Nathanial Minich, Baker Elementary School sixth-grader; Karen Donald, Campbell Elementary-Middle School fifth-grader; Kyle England, Lowellville Elementary School fifth-grader; Kamari Hayes, Martin Luther King Elementary fifth-grader; and Mac- Kenzie Sambroak, Roosevelt Elementary School fifth-grader.