From "bureaucracy" to "nubuck," Sash Davis' journey has been one of many words. But he only used one to describe his experience in the national spelling bee this year: "amazing."
Sash, a seventh-grader at Leetonia, made it to the third round of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., a three-day competition from May 28-30.
The first round on day one is a preliminary test delivered by a computer. Sash and his 280 competitors were each instructed to spell an identical list of 24 words on a keyboard.
But it's not only spelling that counts. The test also consisted of a vocabulary section in which each competitor must answer the same 24 multiple-choice questions. These scores are later used to determine semifinalists.
Each competitor also had an additional two unique vocabulary questions. Sash correctly answered both of his vocabulary questions by correctly defining "hemerocallis" and "ostreiform."
The second day of the competition marked the start of the on-stage oral competition and rounds two and three of the bee. This portion was aired on ESPN3. Sash previously said he was looking forward to being on national television, but he said the cameras gave him some preshow jitters.
"It was nerve-wracking. I didn't know what word I would have to spell," said Sash. He was able to overcome his nerves and he successfully spelled his first word, "jacamar," and advanced to round three. He was eliminated in the third round when he incorrectly spelled nubuck.
"Unfortunately, (Sash) didn't make it to the semifinals," said his mother Rosalie Davis, who accompanied her son to D.C. Sash's mother still can be plenty proud. She adopted Sash from an orphanage in Ukraine when he was two, and at that time he only knew four or five words in Russian. Rosalie taught him English during her visit to Ukraine before he was adopted, and he was placing into advanced levels by the time he was in kindergarten in the United States. Seven years later, Sash was securing his spot in the national competition by correctly spelling "bureaucracy" and winning the county bee.
Although he won't be coming home with a national title, Sash and his mother are happy with the experience and said they enjoyed the trip to Washington D.C.
"He is having such a great time," said Rosalie over the phone from D.C. "He is meeting a lot of people, there are a lot of competitors from Ohio, and it's been great."
"(The experience) is hard to explain, but it was very fun," said Sash. "Especially being on TV and meeting kids from Ohio."
Because he is in seventh grade, Sash has one more year to compete in the bee before he ages out of the competition. And that is not an opportunity he plans to pass up.
"Oh yes, I am competing next year," said Sash. "I am going to have a lot of studying to do."
His appearance in the national bee was co-sponsored by the Salem News, Morning Journal and Evening Review. The three Ogden group Columbiana County newspapers co-sponsor the Columbiana County bee.