WILTON — It was an “agreeable” outcome to the 39th annual Regional Spelling Bee for Waterford-Halfmoon fourth-grader Matthew Wilcox.

Matthew, 9, spelled that word correctly to beat 29 other spellers at the fourth- through eighth-grade competition, which was held Wednesday evening at Maple Avenue Middle School in Saratoga Springs.

The event is co-sponsored by the Washington-Saratoga-Warren-Hamilton-Essex BOCES and the Junior Chamber International Saratoga Springs Jaycees.

It was a “spectacular” end to a two-hour event that featured students handling the “pressure” with “graceful” and “skillful” spelling of words. Each student’s “mission” was to win the bee.

After about 15 rounds, the bee came to a “crucial” moment — down to Matthew and Fort Ann seventh-grader Alexis Ward going back and forth spelling words. At times, the “silence” was such that you could hear a pin drop in the auditorium.

When Alexis misspelled “spectacular,” Matthew corrected the misspelling and then spelled the winning word to claim the title.

Matthew did not have much to say about his upset win over older students, saying only he was “hot” under the bright lights. However, he kept his cool.

His mother, Betsy Wilcox, said she practiced words with him at the kitchen table.

“Every morning, we went over random words from the dictionary,” she said.

Matthew will receive a plaque with his name inscribed alongside the other winners in the history of the bee. The plaque will be housed at his school for the next year and he will get passes to Great Escape.

Alexis was attempting to keep the title within the family, as her brother Patrick Ward, won last year.

Alexis said it was somewhat nerve-wracking being up on stage.

“You have no idea what word is going to come up next,” she said. “You have to reach deep down inside your brain to see if you can find it and spell it.”

The spelling bee also ran in the family for fourth-grader Ava Robbens of Saratoga Springs. Her mother, Alison Robbens, participated in this same event when she was in fourth grade.

“I got out on my first word,” Alison Robbens said.

Ava made it through the first three rounds unscathed.

“She surpassed Mom,” Alison Robbens said.

Lake George eighth-grader Mahad Tarar placed third.

“I put up my best effort. I’m happy with it,” he said.

Rounding out the top six were three fifth-graders: Gabrielle Cooper of Corinth in fourth, Eben Perkins of Galway in fifth and Jimi Marco of Lake George in sixth.

The top finishers all received prizes from Northshire Bookstore.

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You can read Michael Goot’s blog “A Time to Learn” at www.poststar.com or his updates on Twitter @ps_education.


reporter - Glens Falls, Northern Warren County, business and politics

Reporter for The Post-Star, covering the city of Glens Falls, town and village of Lake George and northern Warren County communities.

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