By Kathryn Rice

Raymond Zhao, a seventh grader at Maryville Middle School, took first place in the regional spelling bee on March 7.

His winning word was “sporadically.”

Raymond is the son of Gary Zhao and Cindy Tu, Maryville. The first place win entitles Raymond to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee which will be held May 24-29 in National Harbor, MD.

For the local and regional bees, Raymond studied the 4,000 words in the Words of the Champions packet. He has received an online code for an additional 2,000 words to study for the nationals.

“I’m not focusing right now on the national competition,” Raymond said. “For March, I’m just trying not to forget what I already have. After March, I’ll start focusing on new words.”

Raymond is preparing for the math contest which will be held at the end of March. If he wins, he’ll compete at the state level in St. Louis.

“I’m really excited, because I have never had the chance to go to the National Spelling Bee,” Raymond said about the spelling bee. “You get sponsored for a lot of really great things. It’ll be an opportunity to make new friends.”

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