LAFAYETTE — Seven Indiana students have won their regional competitions and are now heading to the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Seventh grader Joey Finnerty has been competing in spelling bees since fourth grade and this year, he won the regional competition and made it to the national stage.
He's the first East Tipp Middle School student to go to the Scripps Bee.
"I am kind of excited, but since there are so many people it kind of makes me think I'm not going to do super good and I'm probably not going to get very far, but if I think if I try my best, I'll do fine," Joey said.
Every night Joey puts in an hour of studying with the help of resources from Scripps. His goal is to practice 100 spelling words and 100 vocab words.
"At this level, the words are so difficult, most of them I don't even know what they are," Patrick Finnerty, Joey's dad, said.
Joey will be challenged on his vocabulary during a word meaning round of the Bee which is a multiple-choice vocabulary question. This new element started last year to advance the bee's focus on word knowledge and literacy.
"If I get the first word wrong, I will feel pretty disappointed, but as long as I try my best, I'll be happy," Finnerty said.
The competition is fully back in person this year at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center just outside of Washington D.C. The preliminaries are on May 31.
This year, for the first time in bee history, the semifinals and finals rounds will be aired exclusively on ION and Bounce, which are free Scripps TV stations.