Jeffrey Cho, an eighth grader at Page Middle School, won a trip to the National Scripps Spelling Bee after winning Saturday’s regional bee at the West Mathews Community League in Bohannon.
Cho outlasted Thomas Hunter Middle School sixth grader Madelyn Polson, who misspelled “ventilate” in the 10th round. Cho spelled that correctly and then went on, according to national rules, to spell another word correctly, winning in the 11th round on “magnolia.”
Saturday’s bee was sponsored by Adult Literacy on the Middle Peninsula, Inc. The West Mathews Community League building is the former home of Peninsula High School and it is probably safe to say that Saturday’s spelling bee was the first heard within its walls since the school, by then an elementary facility only, closed in 1946.
Cho’s win was his third local title and came in his final year of eligibility, said ALMP director Rhoda-Jo Stress. He has previously won student bees held during Mathews Market Days and advanced to the Newport News-Hampton regional bee, failing to go on from there.
This was the first year that Gloucester and Mathews have had their own regional bee that will send a local student directly to nationals.
The local bee had three other spellers as well, all from Thomas Hunter: Joshua Anthony, Allison Alexander and Tyler Price.
The five students went through an experience that paralleled the national bee, including a written spelling test, written vocabulary test, practice rounds and timed spelling rounds.