On February 10, 2018, two Cortland students, Matthew DeRado and Daniel Zhang competed in the 2018 Post-Standard Spelling Bee. The students qualified for the 2018 Post-Standard Spelling Bee by winning a district level spelling bee held on December 10, 2017, then beating out over one hundred students in the written qualifying exam at Christian Brothers Academy (CBA) on January 20, 2018. Thirty-five students ranging in age from 10 to 14 and representing school districts from across Central New York competed in the spelling bee this year.
This year's spelling bee was the longest contest any of the judges could remember, lasting for over thirty rounds and more than three hours.
The eventual winner was Onondaga Hill Middle School student, Brian Kenny. Brian Kenny and runner-up Daniel Zhang, an eighth grader at Cortland Junior High School, went head-to-head for more than twenty rounds before Kenny was able to capture the title by correctly spelling "prosciutto."
As the Spelling Bee continued, the final rounds were filled with suspense. Daniel and Kenny both continued to get each word correct. Eventually, when one boy would misspell his given word, and the other would correctly spell his before misspelling the second word needed to win. When Kenny finally won, the competitive spirit led to friendship as Kenny and Daniel high-fived and smiled at each other.
"I was kind of hoping that someone would just get two right in a row so I could go home," Daniel said after the contest.
The contestants' parents watched the spelling bee from WCNY's green room. When Daniel’s father, Fan Zhang, finally saw his son after the contest, he yelled, "Daniel, great job!"
Both Matthew DeRado and Daniel Zhang represented the Cortland Enlarged School District and hope to compete in the Post Standard Spelling Bee next year.
To read more on the January 20, 2018 written Spelling Bee at CBA and to see a complete list of contestants click here
To read more on the February 10, 2018 Post Standard oral Spelling Bee and to see a complete list of contestants click here