Fifty kids spent a sunny September Saturday at the Macy’s spelling bee at Ridgedale Mall in Minnetonka.
First prize was a trip to New York, free online tutoring and a gift card. The panel of judges included a school principal and a librarian.
It was Parker Ayotte’s first spelling bee. “I want to go to New York,” explained the Wayzata fifth grader. Earlier in the day, Ayotte scored a touchdown for his football team. “If I win the spelling bee, I’m buying a lottery ticket because it’s my lucky day!”
Ten-year-old Vanessa Martin traveled from Monticello, Minnesota to compete. She said she felt queasy while waiting for her turn, but she really likes spelling.
Luc Tessier, 9, said he felt a little stressed. He correctly spelled words including “vegetable” but was eliminated in round 5 after missing “generous.” Every contestant received a free book upon leaving.
By round 6, the group of 50 was whittled down to 14.
The word “immediately” stumped Will Buck in round 7. “I need to study more if I do another spelling bee, which I probably will,” says the fourth grader.
In the end, Paul Difuccia was the champion. He correctly spelled “pejorative” (which the runner-up misspelled) and then “ghetto.” Difuccia is homeschooled in Chaska.
Difuccia will head to the national spelling bee in New York on Sept. 24. He’ll compete for a grand prize trip to California, a tutoring scholarship and gift card.
The master of ceremonies shared a joke that Difuccia told him before the competition:
How do you spell “mousetrap” with three letters?