BARSTOW • Despite the fact that sixth-grader Lerick Gordon speaks only Spanish at home, he's mastered English well enough to win the final regional spelling bee at First Baptist Church Monday night.
Lerick and a parent will travel to Washington, D.C., where he will represent Barstow in the national Scripps Spelling Bee at the end of May.
The bee began with 21 nervous and eager students from Barstow and Silver Valley schools ranging from third-grade to eighth-grade. Round by round bright, young students were eliminated until it came down to the final three.
Former bee champ Juan Malana, sixth-grade, made it to the top three along with his sister, fifth-grader Regina Malana, a former finalist. Juan scored second place, while his sister came in third. The Malana family has taken the bee championship for the last three years, often facing off sibling-to-sibling.
Lerick won the bee after he spelled the word, "megahertz."
Lerick's mother Yomaira Gordon said she was very excited and emotional at seeing her son win the bee. It means a lot to her, especially since their first language is Spanish.
"He's a very hard worker," Gordon said. "He's motivated."
Lerick said became interested in the bee because his friend, Juan, always competed, adding he was nervous to go up against him. Both Juan and Lerick attend Fort Irwin Middle School.
He said his secret is that he practiced the spelling words between three and four hours a day.
"I just study a lot," Lerick said.
In addition to the trip to national spelling bee, Lerick also received a $100 savings bond, a large glass plaque, a one-year-subscription to the Encyclopedia Britannica online, and a large dictionary.
The regional spelling bee is sponsored by the Desert Dispatch, the Kiwanis Club of Barstow, and the Mountain View Del Taco.