Middle school students across the country are thinking about language of origin, definition and use in a sentence this time of year as they compete for slots at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Forty students representing 20 schools gathered Wednesday at John Marshall Mid-High School for the Oklahoma Region 1 spelling bee.
Michael Mandanas, a student at Heritage Hall, won the bee on the 303rd word: experiential.
Calvin Tolbert, who goes to Casady School, finished second. Mandanas and Tolbert will move on to the state bee. Nivedita Jayasekar, a student at Deer Creek Intermediate School, finished in third place and will serve as an alternate.
Oklahoma has 20 regions, and regional spelling bees will wrap up by early February. The top two spellers from each regional bee move on to the state competition, which is set for March 9 at the University of Oklahoma. The national spelling bee will be in May.
This year was the first time for John Marshall to host the regional bee, Principal Aspasia Carlson said.
The event was exciting for students and staff, Carlson said. Upperclassmen tutored younger students before the bee. Students even made appetizers for the spellers and their parents to enjoy before the competition. Winners received medals and iTunes gift cards.
“We wanted them to feel really special,” Carlson said. “All the way from our classroom bee to our school bee, we wanted them to really be into it and excited about it.”