Speller doing more than study

Janet Bresenham

Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of daily reports from Michael Martinez, the 13-year-old Tucumcari Middle School student from Conchas Dam, who won first place in the recent four-county Regional Spelling Bee sponsored by Freedom Newspapers of New Mexico in Clovis. Martinez is now in Washington, D.C., with his parents, Joe and Rita Martinez, and he will compete in the National Spelling Bee on Wednesday.

Michael Martinez was bursting with excitement when he phoned from Washington, D.C., late Sunday night after enjoying a pizza party with other spellers and a special screening of the new documentary “Spellbound,” the true story of the 1999 National Spelling Bee.
“It was a really good movie,” he said. “I got to meet five of the people who were in that spelling bee and the documentary. I got pictures with all of them and I got their autographs. I even got to meet the producer and the director. It was really nice.”
Michael also got to talk to several girls who competed in the 1999 National Spelling Bee and pick up some pointers on studying and preparing for the event.
His day Sunday began early with an hour or so of studying more words with his parents at the hotel before he registered for the National Spelling Bee and then set off for some sightseeing.
“After registration, we went walking around the city,” he said. “We saw the Washington Monument, and my Dad took my picture in front of it. It was nice. It was like unreal. Then, we just walked along the streets and saw the Capitol Building. We could see the Lincoln Memorial from a distance, too.”
The trio took an ice cream break before heading back to the Grand Hyatt Washington Hotel for the evening’s activities.
Today, Michael said he’s looking forward to more tours of the city and an evening barbecue with other National Spelling Bee participants and their families.

— Janet Bresenham