- January 22, 2016
Mitchell Spencer Edelstein said 16 rounds in the Flagler Schools Spelling Bee felt like 30.
So, it was only fitting that the championship word was “stamina.”
Edelstein, a 12-year-old eighth grader at Buddy Taylor Middle School, won the Spelling Bee on Thursday, Feb. 9, at Buddy Taylor for the second year in a row.
“It’s amazing. Winning two times in a row is even more special than winning one year,” said Edelstein, who is known as Spencer. “I feel over the moon, because I felt I got to win this. This was my last year to compete in a spelling bee since I’m in eighth grade, so I was like, I had to win this. And I made it happen. It was great.”
Teddy Totten, a fifth grader at Christ the King Lutheran School, finished second. Totten spelled such words as “gargantuan,” “flourish” and “centipede,” but he misspelled “affluent,” giving Edelstein a chance to win with the final word.
Last year, the bee went just five rounds. This year it went 16 rounds. The 16 competitors were given a total of 105 words.
“It felt more like 30 (rounds),” Spencer said, “because you had to wait up there for all the kids to spell the word. It’s really tense. It’s nerve-wracking.”
When word pronouncer Chris Stefancik, Flagler Schools' coordinator of assessment and accountability, announced' the final word, Spencer broke into a big smile.
“The last word was ‘stamina,’ and honestly I thought it was pretty easy,” he said. “So, I was excited, because I was like, let’s go, I’m going to get this. I’m going to win.”
The last word was ‘stamina,’ and honestly I thought it was pretty easy. So, I was excited, because I was like, let’s go, I’m going to get this. I’m going to win. — Mitchell Spencer Edelstein
Spencer advances to the First Coast Regional Spelling Bee on March 31 in Jacksonville. The regional winner advances to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Maryland, on Memorial Day week.
Last year, Spencer finished sixth at regional. The word that knocked him out was “bogo.” He said the competition went to a dictionary for late-round words and bogo was an acronym he did not know.
“But I was still proud to be there,” he said.
Spencer said he has been studying a half-hour to an hour every day for the past few months after he won his school’s bee.
“But today, I was like, this is the day of the Spelling Bee. Ever since I woke up, whenever I got a chance, I opened the Spelling Bee list," he said. "It has like 25 pages, so I just had to take every opportunity I got today to study, and in the end, I knew all of them.”
Among other words Spencer spelled were “cowlick,” “forfend,” “bedlam,” “venue” and “lumbar.”
He said cowlick was a word he and his mom went over, so he knew it immediately.
“We looked up the definition, and it was a word I remembered,” he said. “I want to thank my parents, especially, because they helped me review for this. Without them it would have been way harder.”
Spencer is not just a speller. He does well in all his subjects, his parents, Cheryl and Mitch, said. He has skipped two grades and since the beginning of the school year he has been dual enrolled at Daytona State College.
“He took six credits last semester, and he’s taking six credits now,” Cheryl Edelstein said of her son. “He made the President’s list (last semester), and now he’s taking college pre-calculus.”
Cheryl said Spencer is registered to take the SAT next month.
Adylyn Kirks, a sixth grader at Imagine School Town Center, finished third at the Spelling Bee. Sophia Campbell, a fifth grader at Old Kings Elementary School, was fourth.