The Fulton County Spelling Bee ended Monday night with two sisters battling head to head for the right to compete in Washington, D.C.
After two hours of competition in the Gloversville Middle School auditorium, the 45 contestants were narrowed down to just sixth-grader Maggy Lambo and her older sister, eighth-grader Molly Lambo of Mayfield.
“They went head to head for 40 words,” said their father, John Lambo.
Eventually, Molly slipped up and Maggy won, but Lambo said he’s equally proud of both his daughters.
“They practiced for months before the bee,” he said, explaining the Scripps National Spelling Bee released a list of a few thousand possible bee words well in advance of the competition.
“I’d read through them, or their mother [Nadine] would read through,” he said, “quiz them for an hour or two every day.”
The sisters competed the last few years, scoring well but never quite winning the local bee. This time all the practice paid off.
The Leader Herald newspaper, which organized the spelling bee, will pay for Maggy and one of her parents to go to Washington and compete in one of the largest and longest-running bees in the country, the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Lambo is so excited he said he’s taking the whole family.
Leader Herald publisher Patricia Beck said the Lambo family is a prime example of a trend she’s noticed in recent years.
“We’ve had kids come back two, three or four years in a row,” she said. “They’re just determined to make it to Washington.”
The 45-student turnout was no more than usual, but it also wasn’t any less, which surprised Beck.
“Its incredible interest in the bee hasn’t diminished,” she said. “Even as everyone is moving to spell-check.”
Dale Webb, who helped announce the local bee, had a simple reason for the interest. “I don’t think all these words are on spell-check,” he said.
Maggy will compete against a few hundred of the nation’s other top spellers from May 26 through May 31 in Washington.