MORIAH — Moriah Central School eighth-grader Nicholas Manfred is a North Country “spellebrity.”
After all, beginning today, the 13-year-old will compete for the second consecutive year in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
“I’m really nervous, (but) I think I was more nervous last year,” he told the Press-Republican last week as he prepared to leave for Washington, D.C., where the renowned program is held.
Nicholas earned his spot in the national competition in March, when he outlasted 51 other area students to become the champion of the Champlain Valley Educational Services Regional Spelling Bee.
The young spellebrity won the Regional Bee last year, as well, and spelled his way through the first three rounds of the 2012 national competition’s preliminaries before being eliminated.
This year, he said, “I’d like to make it into the finals.”
Nicholas, who has been studying vocabulary words posted on the National Bee website, said he feels better prepared for the challenge than he did last year.
Even making it close to the finals, he said, would be satisfying.
He will compete against 280 top spellers from across the United States and other parts of the world, including American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea and Department of Defense Schools in Europe.
In order to participate, students must be no older than 15 and not have passed beyond eighth grade.
The first round of the preliminaries will kick off today with a computer-based spelling test. Though no spellers will be immediately eliminated for incorrect answers, their test scores may determine whether they qualify for semifinals.
Rounds two and three of the preliminaries — when all spellers face off onstage in oral competition — take place on Wednesday. The contest will end automatically for those who spell incorrectly during these rounds.