North Smithfield's Votta returns to R.I. spelling bee Saturday

North Smithfield's Votta returns to R.I. spelling bee Saturday

North Smithfield Middle School student Elizabeth Votta came in second place at the Rhode Island State Spelling Bee Championship last year.

LINCOLN - Two of the state's fiercest spellers, 2013 Rhode Island State Spelling Bee champion Stephen Landry of North Kingstown, and last year's runner-up, Elizabeth Votta of North Smithfield, are getting a rematch this Saturday at Lincoln Middle School.

The two will face off along with 23 other district winners for the chance to represent Rhode Island at the Scripps National Bee in Washington, D.C., in May.

As an 8th-grader this year, this will be Votta's third and final appearance on the state championship stage. Landry is just a 6th-grader after winning last year as one of the youngest competing.

Also competing from northern Rhode Island are Julie Andrade of Cumberland; Maia Young-Ondrasek of Lincoln; Jacob Harwood of Glocester; Amiya Mandapati of Lincoln representing independent schools; Lauren Hall of Scituate; Elena Caliri of Smithfield; Sean Grupp of Burrillville and Cailee Grayhorse Pupecki of Central Falls.

Students are coming to the state bee after prevailing in district school competitions in February. That includes two Catholic Diocese of Providence schools and independent schools.

Area schools not sending anyone include Woonsocket, Pawtucket and North Providence.

The bee is hosted annually by The Valley Breeze & Observer newspapers.

It begins at 10 a.m. in the Lincoln Middle School auditorium, 152 Jenckes Hill Road, and the public is invited. There's no admission fee.

Karen Meyer from ABC 6 News will be pronouncing the words for the spellers. Judges are former Cumberland Supt. Donna Morelle; state Sen. Ryan Pearson from Citizens Bank; and Leigh Martin, an English professor from the Community College of Rhode Island.

Emceeing the event will be Breeze Publisher Tom Ward.

Coordinating the event is Lisa Beaulieu, chairwoman of the Cumberland School Committee.

Sponsors of this year's bee are:

The Valley Breeze is the Bee's main sponsor. Co-sponsors are the Rhode Island Independent Contractors & Associates, and Citizens Bank.

The winner and one family member will receive an expenses-paid trip to Washington, D.C., May 25 to 31, for the competition.

But it won't be easy.

Last year, winner Stephen and runner-up Elizabeth went four rounds at the end until Stephen won on the word "humanitarian" after edging out Elizabeth when he spelled "manipulative" correctly, but she left out the second "t" in "patently."

Down in Washington, D.C., the national champion spelled knaidel (a type of dumpling) to take the title.

Here are the additional competitors:

Dominic Portelli, Barrington; Gabe Randall, Bristol; Corey Pennington, Chariho district; Summer Lizarda, Warwick, representing Diocese of Providence schools, region I; Phoebe Dodge, East Providence, representing Diocese of Providence schools, region II.

Sunny Sait, East Greenwich; Alexis Zachas, West Greenwich; Alisa Smith, Jamestown; Cameron Butler, Narragansett; Alcy Stiepock-MacKay, Block Island.

Jessica Chen, Portsmouth; Armish Khan, Providence; Morgan Aguiar, Tiverton; Giovanna Landrie; West Warwick; Dylan Temel, Westerly.