NYC kid can’t be in national bee, so he’s spelling at home

Vale Esposito is a fifth-grader at Lower Lab School in Manhattan. The Upper East Sider, 10, outspelled some 60 other NYC kids to win a spot in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which had been slated for May 24-29 in Maryland, but is now canceled.

One of my favorite words is kaffeeklatch, which is a conversation over coffee. I hoped that I’d have an opportunity to spell it on the TV round at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Now I just get to spell it at home.

I worked really hard to win, practicing words for 30 minutes every day. I won the citywide bee by spelling vanda, which is a type of flower and a word I’d never seen before. I had to figure it out on the spot.

I left with a trophy that was almost too heavy to carry. My school was super excited that I won. The principal threw a popcorn party for my friends and I.

My classmates were set to have a viewing party for the national bee. When it was canceled, my heart froze for a second and my mind didn’t know what to do. I still don’t understand why they didn’t push it to early next year. It’s very disappointing. I looked forward to staying at a hotel in Maryland, going sightseeing in DC, attending a dance with the other contestants.

The coronavirus has taken away a lot.

But I’ll have a party at home. One of my favorite words is croquembouche — a tower of French pastries that look like donuts. Maybe we’ll have one at the party.

— As told to Michael Kaplan

Read more stories about how kids are being affected by the coronavirus pandemic


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