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Vocabulary adds twist for Sycamore teen at national spelling bee

SYCAMORE – Matthew Rogers is still feeling good, even after facing what he considered the toughest part of the largest spelling bee in the nation.

“I think the competition is going well, and I feel confident,” Matthew, a 13-year-old Sycamore Middle School student, said.

Matthew, who won the 2013 DeKalb County Spelling Bee on Feb. 23, completed the first preliminary round for the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday.

The competition pits more than 280 participants against each other to correctly spell every word until one wins the grand prize, which includes a cash award.

Matthew is being sponsored by the Daily Chronicle.

Participants not only have to spell words correctly for this year’s competition but they also must know the definitions of the words. Rogers took a written test on a computer for the first preliminary round and while the test was challenging, he said he thought he did well.

The hardest portion of the round tested him on vocabulary, he said.

He was given 24 vocabulary questions and only 12 of them were counted. Two of the vocabulary questions were worth three points each, while the rest were worth one point.

Although the vocabulary test was the most challenging round for Matthew thus far, he said rounds two and three shouldn’t be difficult. Matthew’s dad, Paul Rogers, said the results of the first preliminary round would not be released until today. Until then, Matthew said he would continue to train for future rounds.

The competition has been fun for Matthew. He said the spelling bee this year is better than the one he witnessed when his brother Mark competed in 2011. 

“It’s a friendly competition,” Matthew said. 

Paul Rogers said Matthew will spell words on the stage today. After several rounds throughout the day, the contestants advancing to the semifinals will be announced.

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