A Delaware City Schools fifth-grader won the Scripps College of Communication Regional Spelling Bee over the weekend and will be traveling to Washington, D.C. in May to compete in the National Spelling Bee.
Eric Gitson, a fifth-grader at Smith, traveled to Ohio University last week to take part in the regional spelling bee after he won his school spelling bee in January. Gitson took first place at the competition and won a trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee between May 28 and June 3.
This was Gitson’s third trip to the regional spelling bee, having competed in 2015 and 2016 taking home eighth and fourth place, respectively.
Gitson said Tuesday that he was “pretty nervous” during the regional spelling bee Saturday especially after the judges stopped using words from the practice list he had been using.
During the competition 53 other students were eliminated during 11 rounds until only Gitson and a student from Bexley Middle School, Shruti Sivaraman, remained. Gitson and Sivaraman then competed against each other for 35 rounds until Gitson ultimately prevailed.
Gitson said the contest was exhausting and took five and a half hours. Gitson’s mother, Cassie Prodanova, said the judges ran out of words for the two finalists to spell so they had to switch to defining vocabulary words.
Gitson won the competition after he correctly defined “spectrum” as a series of images formed when a beam of light is subjected to dispersion.”
“It was tiring, but I did not want to give up,” Gitson said. “I just kept thinking of going to nationals. It’s been my dream since third grade to win the regional spelling bee.”
Gitson practices every day and had been using a list of words that were used in previous competition but said Tuesday that he is going to be studying the entire dictionary for the national competition.
Gitson was not the only Delaware City Schools student to go to the regional spelling bee over the weekend. Carlisle Elementary school fourth-grader, Joya Austin; Schultz Elementary fifth-grader, Natalia Hisle and Dempsey Middle School seventh-grader Hallie Wright also competed, but were eliminated during the competition.
Gitson said he thought his fellow Delaware students were “great” and hoped they competed again next year.
Gitson and his mother said they were thankful for Delaware City Schools staff who helped Gitson.
Looking forward, Gitson said he is going to keep learning and practicing from the dictionary and hopes to win the national competition.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.