For the second year in a row, Fairmont Historic Anaheim 8th grader Winston Z. has captured the Orange County Spelling Bee title and is on his way to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
On Saturday, March 3, Winston found himself in a very familiar spot: as one of the final contenders in the county’s annual competition. Though it was a rather exhausting feat — 29 rounds total, the last 22 of those between Winston and the second-place finisher from Irvine Intermediate School in Garden Grove — Winston finally captured the victory by spelling the word teff correctly after his rival had misspelled the word given to her. And this came after spelling words such as bobbejaan, zeitgeber, and schadenfreude!
“It was really important to me that I won again because I felt like there was an expectation for me to do well this year,” Winston said. “I’m really relieved that I could fulfill that.”
The Scripps National Spelling Bee takes place Sunday, May 27, through Friday, June 1, which gives Winston plenty of time to prepare and continue the study regime he began as he geared up for the county contest. He spends at least 30 minutes to an hour or more each day reviewing the study booklet he was provided and reading the dictionary. Additionally, his dad quizzes him on various words to help him think on his feet.
At last year’s national competition, Winston made it to the semifinal round before being eliminated. He hopes to be more successful at this year’s event. He also recently qualified for the National Geographic Geography Bee state finals in Fresno, California.
Though the atmosphere of educational bees can be filled with stress and anxiety, Winston manages to remain calm — after all, he knows he is using his strengths in a way he enjoys.
“I’m really competitive, so it’s nice to compete against other students,” he said. “I like the challenge.”