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Conn. speller falls in first round of National Geo spelling bee

May 22, 2018 GMT

WASHINGTON — A Connecticut eighth-grader did not make the cut to the final round Monday in the National Geographic Spelling Bee.

James Leone, a student at Middlesex Middle School in Darien, competed at the national spelling bee here, along with more than 50 elementary and middle school students across the United States. He was one of about 40 other contestants to be eliminated in the preliminary round.

National Geographic hosts the annual competition at the National Geographic Society headquarters from May 21 to 23, reeling in some of the nation’s top young spellers. Before advancing to the national competition, Leone won first place at the semifinal competition in Connecticut.

Shelly Somers, the principal of Middlesex Middle School, said Leone has been a model for other students in his dedication to academics and preparation for the competition. She has seen him studying every day in the library leading up to the competition.

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She added that Barbara Ivey, who works in media relations at the middle school, coached Leone for spelling bees since he was in sixth-grade. She was an “inspiration” to him since he delved into national and regional competitions, Somers said.

“We’re very happy with the work that he did — he just strives so hard to excel,” Somers said. “He really exemplifies where one can go.”

More than 500 students will visit the nation’s capital next week for the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, a televised event on ESPN. Five Connecticut spelling whizzes from Guilford, West Hartford, New Haven, Bethel and Bridgeport qualified for the competition.