Naomi Zarin, 12, of Gray approaches the microphone as the first speller in the opening round of the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Maryland, on Wednesday, May 31, 2017. She correctly spelled tarsier. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

 

Twelve-year-old Naomi Zarin, who lives in Gray and attends the Friends School of Portland in Cumberland, kicked off the opening round of the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee by correctly spelling tarsier.

According to Webster’s New World College Dictionary (5th Edition), a tarsier is “any of a family (Tarsiidae) of small arboreal primates of the East Indies and the Philippines, with very large, gogglelike eyes, and a long, tufted tail: tarsiers are active at night and feed esp. on lizards and insects”

She successfully spelled triceratops in the second round Wednesday.

Zarin made it through 42 rounds to be crowned this year’s state champion.

Zarin finished second in the state bee last year. She has competed in the Cumberland County Bee since fifth grade, but her interest in spelling goes back a long way.

“When I was 4 years old, I would go to the third- and fourth grade room and take spelling tests with them,” she said. “I don’t know if I got my results, or if I just liked doing it.”

Liking something is one thing, but excelling at it is another, and Zarin has worked hard to become the speller she is today with some help along the way.

“On the Scripps website they have a study tool, so I use that a lot,” she said of her about her bee preparation. “My parents quiz me.  My mom leaves me spelling words in my lunch box, and I read a lot.”

Her favorite books are the Harry Potter series, which involves a different type of spelling (she says she would be a Ravenclaw). She also likes the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, and her favorite subjects in school are writing and math.

As far as tips for spelling bee success, Zarin explained that asking for an alternate pronunciation of the winning word copal helped her figure out that the second vowel was an “a.”

“I try to ask at least one question every time. It’s really helpful, especially alternate pronunciations,” she said.

While most people continue to be thankful for spell-check, Zarin is preparing to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee starting in late May. The competition takes place just outside of Washington, D.C., in National Harbor, Maryland.

“I don’t know if I’ll make it to the finals, and I definitely don’t think I’ll win,” she said with a smile. “Because I’m not one of those people who spell their whole lives and don’t do anything else. I like to have a balance of things.”

The final rounds start 10 a.m. Thursday, June 1. Results are posted on the spelling bee’s blog.

Information from KeepMeCurrent.com was used in this report.

Neil St. John of Bangor misspells his word during the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Maryland, on Wednesday, May 31, 2017. He misspelled polygynous — having more than one female mate — incorrectly. (AP Photo/Cliff Owen)

Spelling bee updates

The first round is over and competition resumes at 1:15 p.m. Wednesday. The final rounds start 10 a.m. Thursday, June 1. Results are posted on the spelling bee’s blog.

 


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