Bellaire’s Drake Finnicum send-off has students abuzz

Classmates celebrate his success, trip to national bee

BELLAIRE — Drake Finnicum of Bellaire Middle School is due to face competitors from across the country beginning Tuesday, when the Scripps National Spelling Bee gets underway in Washington, D.C.

Finnicum qualified for the contest in February, taking home first place in the 37th annual Belmont County Spelling Bee. After nine rounds competing against champions from school districts across the county and with only two of the original 18 students left on stage, the Bellaire Middle School eighth-grader secured the victory by correctly spelling the words “codswallop” and “psychoanalysis.”

Conner Wilson, a seventh-grader at Shadyside Middle School, is this year’s runner-up and the county alternate to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. He would visit Washington if Finnicum was unable to make the trip.

Wilson was eliminated after incorrectly spelling the word “histrionics.”

Finnicum is set to travel to the nation’s capital with a parent and a coach. Together they will have the chance for sightseeing in between rounds of the competition.

As the first place winner at the county bee, Finnicum was also awarded a $500 cash prize, a trophy, a Merriam-Webster Unabridged Online Certificate, The Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, a plaque with the two winning words for display at his school, a traveling trophy for the school, a one-year subscription to the Britannica Online Premium, as well as a trip to the national bee for himself, a parent and a teacher or coach.

“I’m so happy,” Finnicum said after the county competition, marking his fourth year at the county bee.

The county bee and the trip to Washington, D.C., are made possible by The Times Leader and sponsors including Belmont Savings Bank, Bordas & Bordas, Airport Limousine Service, Uniglobe Travel, East Central Ohio Educational Service Center and the Ohio River Valley Elks.

“We at The Times Leader are thrilled to make this opportunity possible for Drake and for a great speller from Belmont County each and every year,” Jennifer Compston-Strough, managing editor, said. “We wish Drake safe travels and the best of luck in the national bee!”

The staff and students at Bellaire Middle School celebrated Finnicum’s success earlier this month. The entire school held a special sendoff event, wishing him the best during his trip and the national bee.


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