They say the third time’s the charm, and it was for Barberton Middle School eighth-grader Ferdian “Euro” Aditama.
He won the Akron Beacon Journal Regional Spelling Bee on Saturday at Akron-Summit County Public Library.
More than 30 of the best spellers from Medina, Summit, Portage and Wayne counties were competing to move on to the national spelling bee.
The local spellers pulled out all the stops, frequently asking pronouncer Tom Stephan, a retired Stow-Munroe Falls educator, to repeat words, definitions and origins. They spelled out words on their hands with their fingers and slowly calculated each and every syllable.
After more than three hours and 20 rounds of intense competition, the match came down to Aditama and last year’s champ, Jeremy Lun, an eighth-grader from Dalton Intermediate School in Wayne County.
Aditama came in third last year and the stakes were high for him this year as this was his last year of eligibility.
He studied every day to prepare for the big match with the help of his grandmother, father and mother.
“It feels great,” said Aditama, as he sat onstage after the bee. “My dream came true. I am really happy.”
He will compete in May at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Maryland. The thought of the national bee sounds a little daunting to Aditama, but he said he “is going to give it his best for his school and his family.”
Aditama’s parents, Richard Sutton and Nisworo Palupi, watched with smiles on their faces as their son was awarded a plaque for winning the bee.
“I am so proud of him,” Palupi said.
It was a close match between the two eighth-graders. They went back and forth, dealing with words such as “passel,” “disembark” and “interloper.”
The atmosphere was intense.
When Lun misspelled his word, “appalling,” Aditama then successfully spelled his word, “fatuity,” a noun meaning complacent stupidity, and clinched the title.
Sitting in the audience was Lun’s family. His little sister, Abby, 11, was at the edge of her seat with her hands cupped over her mouth as she anxiously watched her brother.
Lun shook hands with Aditama after the match, then exited to the stage where his family was waiting with hugs and praise.
“I think he did great,” Abby said of her brother after the bee. “I couldn’t have guessed that. The … words were really hard.”
Aditama said he will never forget the day. “I will remember it forever,” he said. “It’s amazing.”
Heather Beyer can be reached at HMBeyer@aol.com.