By BETHANY BLITZ
Is it “mediocer,” “mediocre,” or “medeocre?
The correct answer is m-e-d-i-o-c-r-e, but Joseph Moran was not so Saturday at the North Idaho Regional Spelling Bee.
The fifth-grader, who is homeschooled with NIHEA, out-spelled 38 other students grades four through eight to win the bee. “Mediocre” was the championship word.
“I wasn’t too nervous; I do well in front of a crowd,” Joseph told The Press after the bee. “I did tons of studying, too.”
Joseph will now advance to the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in late May. He gets a one-week, all-expense-paid trip courtesy of the Regional Spelling Bee sponsor, Hagadone Newspapers.
He also received a Samuel Louis Sugarman Award Certificate, a one-year membership to Britannica Online Premium edition, a one-year membership to Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online, a $25 Amazon Gift Card, a plaque, a medallion and a North Idaho College events pass for the 2017-18 school year.
“I’m extremely proud and excited,” said Joseph’s mom, Sally. “He’s always been a good speller and reader. He has a very precise personality.”
This year’s runner-up is Maria Aguiar, an eighth-grader from Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy. She slipped up on the word “ostentatious” after correctly spelling “poltergeist” in the previous round.
“I had a lot of fun and I really liked it,” she said. “I was nervous because I knew it was my last year and I wanted to do better this year.”
Her mother, Dolores Duarte, said “Maria was a champion to me.”
According to the judge’s initial thought, Maria slipped up in round 12 on “forsythia” because she forgot the “a” on the end. Someone appealed that decision, so judges reviewed video and agreed she had, in fact, spelled the word correctly.
The bee went on for two more rounds before the championship round.
All 39 participants, from 47 schools in 10 districts across North Idaho, including private-school and home-school divisions, received medallions and NIC events passes.
Mindy Patterson, the spelling bee coordinator, said this year’s bee, which was 15 rounds, went much longer than last year’s eight-round bee.
“I love to watch the kids spell; they’re spelling words that some people can’t even pronounce,” she said. “And the winner is a fifth-grader, that’s just amazing.”