“Westerlies,” secured 10-year-old Thomas Sinclair’s win at the 2020 Arkansas State Spelling Bee, sponsored by the Electric Cooperatives of Arkansas, in February.
The word, which means “winds blowing from the west,” was supposed to be the Garland County fifth-grader’s
ticket to travel northeast to the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee this month.
But the organization states that due to the coronavirus pandemic, “The Scripps National Spelling Bee is suspending its national finals in National Harbor, Maryland. The suspension includes all in-person events and the live national broadcast the week of May 24.”
There is still hope. Scripps states: “If possible, we will work with our local sponsors, spellers, convention partners and ESPN to reschedule the 93rd Scripps National Spelling Bee for later this year.”
If or when it happens, Thomas — an excellent speller and pianist who’s performing Gabriel Fauré’s Dolly Suite in the background while his father, Tom, talks to Arkansas Living on the phone — will be ready.
Thomas still studies his spelling consistently, says his father: “He wakes up pretty much every morning, and he does 100, 150, 200 words.” Except for Sunday, the junior Thomas says, adding that’s his “fun day.”
Thomas says there is a bright side if the Scripps National Spelling Bee is delayed: “If it’s later, I’m OK with it because I have more time.”
The spelling champion is smart enough to know what else that means.
He adds, “I’m kind of worried, too, because the other spellers have more time.”