COEUR d’ALENE — The Panhandle is once again abuzz in anticipation of the North Idaho Regional Spelling Bee.
Joseph Moran, who made history by winning the regional bee three consecutive times, is already preparing for his fourth and final attempt at bringing the Scripps National Spelling Bee trophy home to Idaho.
"Well, I'm definitely hoping I'll succeed," the Inland Northwest Christian Homeschoolers eighth-grader said Wednesday.
Joseph, of Hayden, has been practicing for about three hours a day, six days a week, priming the masterful memorization of his mind with a spelling list of 4,000 words.
"I'm fairly confident," he said. "I know it can go any way. I just don't know what’s going to happen, what other spellers will be there. I have a decent idea of what the words will be like. They're going to be more difficult than in previous years."
Joseph has won the opportunity to compete in the Scripps Bee in Washington, D.C., each spring since he was in fifth grade. This competition pits national and international students against one another in written and on-stage spelling battles, and those who advance far enough compete on television when the final rounds air on ESPN.
Last year, Joseph made it to the top 50 before going out on the word "cyclamen," which is a European plant in the primrose family.
"It’s been a great learning experience," Joseph said. "It's something I'm sure will serve me well later in life. Knowing all these words and knowing how to spell them is very valuable. Sometimes when I'm writing something I still misspell it, but I’ll instantly realize it and correct it."
He said competing in the Scripps Bee has been a "great life experience."
"Being up in front of other people, having to do something like that under pressure, I think those skills I'm learning through this are going to come in handy later," he said.
Mom Sally Moran said she's looking forward to Joseph having one more chance to participate.
"It is his last year," she said. "As a family we would like to go to D.C. one more time and experience it one last time before we go to other things because (next year) he'll be high school age and doing other things."
This year's regional bee will be sponsored and hosted by North Idaho College. Bee coordinator and NIC community relations coordinator Maureen Dolan said NIC is happy to be able to support the community by hosting, organizing and sponsoring the 2020 bee.
"It will be exciting to see if Joseph continues his winning streak, but it’s an accomplishment for any young speller to qualify for the regional bee, so we’re excited for all the participants," she said. "Spelling is an important part of literacy, and there’s more to a spelling bee than the words themselves. Kids learn word concepts and proper word usage. Participating in spelling bees also gives students a chance to practice poise under pressure and helps build their confidence."
A total of 38 fourth- through eighth-grade students from the five northern counties will participate in the 17th annual North Idaho Regional Spelling Bee Feb. 29 at the Boswell Hall Schuler Performing Arts Center on NIC’s main campus. Each regional contestant won in his or her respective grade level in qualifying bees held in public school districts, charter and private schools, and home school associations throughout North Idaho.
The spellers will compete against each other, regardless of grade level, beginning at 9 a.m. Registration for participants will begin at 8:30 a.m. The winner will head to D.C. to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in late May.
The 2020 North Idaho Regional Spelling Bee contestants are:
Boundary County School District No. 101 participants: Salisia Olson, fourth grade, Naples Elementary Frankie Johnson, fifth grade, Valley View Elementary Isaac Weaver, sixth grade, Boundary County Middle David Moore, seventh grade, Boundary County Middle Ana Chase, eighth grade, Boundary County Middle
Christian Center School participants: Jaden Alexander, fourth grade Chloe Wymer, fifth grade Luke McWhorter, sixth grade Sadie Staples, seventh grade Owen Putren, eighth grade
Coeur d’Alene Charter Academy participants: Caren Silva, sixth grade Ashlyn Craigie, seventh grade Sam Lambert, eighth grade
Coeur d’Alene School District No. 271 participants: Vivianna Dyreson, fourth grade, Borah Elementary Samuel Smith, fifth grade, Sorensen Magnet Elementary Emerson Rakes, sixth grade, Lakes Magnet Middle Connor Daley, seventh grade, Woodland Middle Sarah Fleshman, eighth grade, Canfield Middle
Home School participants: Chloe Anglen, fourth grade, North Idaho Home Educator's Association (NIHEA) Ethan Wheeler, fifth grade, Inland Northwest Christian Homeschoolers (INCH) Luke Berghorst, sixth grade, NIHEA James Seeley, seventh grade, INCH Joseph Moran, eighth grade, INCH
House of the Lord Christian Academy participants: Colter Gottemueller, fourth grade Sophia Anderson, fifth grade Gage Ehrmantrout, sixth grade
Immaculate Conception Academy participant: Jacob Eberlein, fifth grade
Lake Pend Oreille School District No. 84 participants: Ruthie Laughridge, fourth grade, Farmin Stidwell Elementary Wyatt Long, fifth grade, Northside Elementary Jack Baker, sixth grade, Kootenai Elementary
Pinehurst Elementary, Kellogg School District No. 391 participants: Atinka Thomas, fourth grade Diann Balance, fifth grade
Sandpoint Waldorf School participant: Jasper Caslund, sixth grade
Wallace School District No. 393 participants: Cooper Miller, fourth grade, Silver Hills Elementary Jackson Pierce, fifth grade, Silver Hills Elementary Aubrey Birdsell, sixth grade, Silver Hills Elementary Gabe Anderson, seventh grade, Wallace Jr./Sr. High Michael Jones, eighth grade, Wallace Jr./Sr. High