BANGOR, Maine — Nathan Manaker confessed that he didn’t spend a lot of time practicing for the Penobscot County Spelling Bee held Saturday afternoon at Husson University.
“About 20 minutes before this happened, my dad gave me some random words,” the 12-year-old student at Orono Middle School said after being being pronounced champion. “I spelled the last word right because I heard someone else practicing it.”
That last word was tertiary — t-e-r-t-i-a-r-y.
“I just like learning new words,” the seventh-grader said after the spelling bee. “I also do a lot of acting, so I have to memorize lines and I have a naturally good memory so I remember the words I see.”
Nathan will go to Washington, D.C., in May to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Husson University, which sponsors the contest in Penobscot County, is paying for trip.
“I think I will definitely practice,” he said.
Nathan was one 32 of competitors enrolled in grades four through eight, who were not yet 15, representing schools from around the county. He is the son of Keith and Jessica Manaker of Orono.
Neily Raymond, 12, of Hermon came in third and Orion Zydlewski, 14, of Hampden came in second.
Orion said after the contest ended that he likes spelling “because of the stories you can make up with the words you spell.”
He attends Reeds Brook Middle School in Hampden. She attends Hermon Middle School.
Orion and Nathan went three sets of words before the winner was determined.
The Penobscot County Spelling Bee was an elimination-style competition held in front of an audience and a panel of judges. Sandip Wilson, an associate professor of Elementary Education at Husson University, provided the words for the students. Wilson said Saturday that she practiced pronouncing the words before the contest.
This year’s champion offered some advice to students who might be thinking about preparing for the 2015 spelling bee.
“Believe in yourself definitely,” Nathan said. “Tell yourself you can do it and keep trying. I only made it to the second round last year when I was in sixth grade and now I’m going to D.C. Whoo hoo!”
The Scripps National Spelling Bee is the nation’s largest and longest-running educational promotion administered on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Company and local spelling bee sponsors around the world. The goal of the event is to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives.
The Maine State Spelling Bee, which includes winners from every county but Penobscot County, will be held March 22 at the University of Southern Maine. Nathan and the winner of the competition at USM will go to Washington, D.C., for the national contest.