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Alexandria Central student heads to national bee — again

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DEXTER — “Bambino” made Dylan J. O’Connor, 12, a winner.

That was the word that is sending the Alexandria Central School sixth-grader to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., after he won Tuesday’s regional contest at General Brown Junior-Senior High School.

Dylan was also the winner of last year’s regional spelling bee and studied extra so he could earn a place at the national competition for the second year in a row.

“He was very well prepared, even more so than last year,” said his father, Michael J. O’Connor. “He pretty much knew every word on the list by the time he got here.”

Some of the more difficult words the 25 spellers from schools throughout Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties had to ace were “polder,” “hacienda,” “sevruga,” and “schloss.”

“Some of the words are really not commonly heard in everyday conversation, which is what makes them difficult,” said Dawn D. Ludovici, Jefferson-Lewis Board of Cooperative Educational Services assistant superintendent of programs. “A lot of those words I don’t even think I’ve heard before, much less know the spelling for.”

Second-place winner Elissa Prieto, a seventh-grader from Case Middle School, Watertown, did not let Dylan win easily. The last two on the stage sparred letter by letter for a half hour. Of the 31 rounds, Dylan and Elissa were the last two for 25 rounds, according to Mrs. Ludovici. After spelling particularly difficult words, Dylan would give his family a thumbs-up or wave before heading to his seat.

“It was harder this year,” he said. “We studied one to two hours a day. One of my favorite words was buccaneer because I spelled it wrong once.”

Each participant received a certificate and a book. The top six finishers received once-a-week Watertown Daily Times Newspaper in Education subscriptions for the remainder of the school year.

In addition to advancing to the national spelling bee, Dylan won a $100 U.S. savings bond, a Webster’s Third New International Dictionary and a one-year online subscription to the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

This adds to Dylan’s growing collection of dictionaries. With his most recent win, he now has four.

The 86th National Scripps Spelling Bee will be held from May 26 to June 1.

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