Since he won the Prince William County Middle School Spelling Bee in March, 12-year-old Ricky Zein has had his head buried in Webster’s Dictionary, getting ready for the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee this week.
Hoping that he will not have to spell tricky words and that he makes it to the last round, the seventh-grader at Godwin Middle School is taking this spelling bee quite seriously.
Ricky will be in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday to compete against 249 champion spellers from all over the United States in the first round. Then comes the second-round portion of the National Spelling Bee, a new addition to the bee where competitors will be asked to take a 25-word written spelling test to trim the original three-day competition down to two days.
If Ricky makes it to the second round and succeeds, he will go on to the third round on Thursday, which will be aired on ESPN at 10 a.m.
Ricky said he’s a little nervous.
“There is going to be a lot of competition. I’ve never had something like this before,” he said. “To win the county spelling bee, that was a shocker.”
Ricky has been using National Spelling Bee study guides to help him learn words that he might hear on Wednesday. “I am just studying and studying.”
His mother, Lendriani Cummins, said she is not surprised at her son’s success thus far as she pointed to his straight-A interim report card last week.
“He loves to read, he’s buying books every day … he comes home with the newspaper,” she said.
Ricky, himself a writer of science fiction and fantasy stories, says he would like to be a chief executive officer of a large company, after attending Harvard University.
“I want to be bigger than Microsoft, bigger than Wal-Mart,” he said.
Godwin Middle School Principal Geoffrey Dodge said his school will be cheering Ricky on from Dale City. “We’ve never had a county winner from our school. It will be a great thing.”
Dodge describes the boy as an outstanding young man and is sure he will do well on Wednesday. “I’m impressed with him.”
Ricky started attending Godwin Middle School in December after moving to Prince William County from Maryland.
Even if he doesn’t sweep the competition this week, Ricky still has the prizes he won in March, which include his week-long stay in Washington, courtesy of the Potomac News.
He also received a Merriam-Webster Dictionary, a $100 savings bond from the Samuel Louis Sugarman Foundation and a Scripps Howard gift certificate to purchase a National Spelling Bee Spelling Ace backpack and fanny pack.
He, along with the other contestants in March, received a trophy from the Potomac News. The Bel Air Women’s Club also sponsored the county spelling bee.
The National Spelling Bee will be held in the ballroom at the Grand Hyatt in Washington. Ricky is scheduled to participate in the first round at 9:15 a.m. on Wednesday.
He could win up to $12,000 in the bee.