Williamstown 7th grader excited for Scripps National Spelling Bee

MARIETTA, Ohio (WTAP) - UPDATE 5/13/19

The Mid-Ohio Valley has double the chance to win this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee with two contestants this year.

Williamstown High School's Matthew Taylor is also prepping for the big competition in the nation's capital.

The seventh-grader qualified by besting Tate Ayers and winning the regional competition in March.

Taylor started participating in spelling bees in the second grade and it's always been his goal to make it to nationals.

"I'm like really excited because I've been wanting to do this forever," Taylor said, "but I'm also like really nervous."

"In the classroom, he always tries to be helpful," Taylor's teacher Christina Nestor said, "and it’s funny because kids will ask me how to spell something and I’ll give them a hard time like you have the spelling bee champion right in front of you."

While he admits he’s nervous, Taylor said he’s very competitive and is studying hard for the national stage.

"Since they don’t really give you that much of a list to study, the dictionary is kind of it," Taylor said. "So I’m just trying to get through those and see the words and try to understand like patterns between languages."

In Nestor's class, Taylor is learning Greek and Latin roots for words and added it's helped him to piece together words he may not even know.

"Knowing what those root words mean helps kids to understand words as a whole," Nestor said. "If they don’t understand the word, they can understand part of the word and it helps them with the context clues to bring in the meaning together."

"I think it’s just helped me read," Taylor noted, "like understand if there’s a word I don’t know, I think the spelling has helped me understand it because there may be a prefix or a suffix, I might know the definition of it and be able to identify the word."

Taylor hopes to spell out victory when he reaches Washington D.C. May 26.


ORIGINAL STORY 5/10/19

A Marietta Middle School student is taking his spelling skills to the national stage later this month. Seventh grader Tate Ayers will travel to Washington D.C. to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee May 26.

Ayers has been competing in spelling bees since the fifth grade. But this marks the first time he's made it to the national level.

"I actually seem to be getting better," he said. "I’ve been learning way new words I never thought I’d ever know."

"We could not be more excited for him to go to nationals," said Brianna Johnson, Ayerss language arts teacher, "and compete in national level. He has really deserved this with how hard he's studied."

Ayers finished runner up at the regional competition this year but was selected for nationals through a second-chance program called RSVBee. And he’s been studying hard to hopefully make a deep run in the competition.

"For the ones in the list, I always write them 10 times each," Ayers said, "saying the definition, saying how they’re pronounced, saying their language origin and then my mom and I go over them verbally."

The spelling bee is in its 92nd year. While the renowned friendly competition has been going strong for almost a century, Ayers and his teacher both agree, there's more to learn from the competition than just spelling.

"Biggest thing I've learned is how to spell words I don't know and some definitions that'll carry on for way past the spelling bee," Ayers said.

"It also teaches them perseverance," Johnson said, "you know some times you’re going to struggle, you’re going to have words you don’t get right the first time."

"It definitely teaches students to keep going and try again and get back up there and give it their all."