MORIAH — When it comes to determining the correct spelling of a word, Jay Strieble believes in the power of visualization.
“I try to picture it in my head before I say how I want to spell it,” said the champion of Moriah Central School’s recent eighth-grade spelling bee.
On Friday, Strieble, along with the winners of fourth-through-eighth-grade bees at schools throughout Clinton and Essex counties, will compete in the 2014 Champlain Valley Educational Services Regional Spelling Bee.
As with the 2013 competition, in which Strieble also earned a spot as a seventh-grader, this year’s Regional Bee will be held at his home school.
“It’s nice to host it back to back,” said Moriah Elementary School Principal Valerie Stahl. “I don’t think that happens very often.”
Nicholas Manfred, now a ninth-grader at Moriah Central, secured his school the honor of hosting the event consecutively by becoming the grand champion of both the 2012 and 2013 Regional Bees.
“We’re getting used to it,” Stahl said of hosting the contest. “We’re hoping for a third year.”
The 2014 event, sponsored by CVES and the Press-Republican, will kick off with three oral rounds, beginning at 6 p.m. in Moriah Central’s auditorium.
Students, from 25 school buildings representing numerous districts, will each be asked to spell one word per round.
“They can ask for the country of origin, the definition (and to) have it said in a sentence,” explained CVES Regional Spelling Bee Coordinator Jane Landry.
Round four will consist of a written spelling test, and those who are successful will return to the stage to spell words aloud until a grand champion emerges.
Also recognized will be a first runner-up and grade-level champions.
NATIONAL BEE NEXT
In addition, alternate spellers, who must attend the bee in case their school’s representative can’t take part, will be honored during the Alternate Recognition Ceremony before intermission.
“Since they’re making the trip down, we wanted to recognize that they had quite a bit of success in their own schools,” Landry said.
The grand champion of Friday’s contest will win a trip for two to Washington, D.C., courtesy of the Press-Republican, where he or she will compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, as Manfred did the past two years.
In addition, the top speller will receive a Samuel Louis Sugarman Award Certificate, donated by Jay Sugarman, for a 2014 U.S. Mint Proof Set; a one-year subscription to Encyclopaedia Britannica Online, donated by Encyclopaedia Britannica; and an unabridged Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Dictionary donated by Merriam-Webster.
The first runner-up will receive an 11th-edition Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.
Admission to the CVES Regional Spelling Bee is free, and concession sales will benefit the Moriah Central Drama Club.
While Strieble said he is less nervous going into this year’s competition than he was the last, first-time bee participants have mixed emotions about the upcoming event.
“I’m nervous and excited,” said seventh-grader Jonathan Gibbs, the grand champion of Moriah Junior High’s recent spelling bee.
Similarly, Moriah Elementary Spelling Bee Grand Champion Karen King, a sixth-grader, said she is “very nervous but also very happy at the same time.”
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WATCH THE BEE
The Champlain Valley Educational Services Regional Spelling Bee will start at 6 p.m. Friday, March 7, at Moriah Central School.
The school is located at 39 Viking Lane in Port Henry.