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Fifth-grader Frankie Genovese is a boy of many words, and Saturday he proved that he probably can spell them all.

The St. Peter's Catholic School pupil took first place among a group of 12 fifth-graders in the Niagara County regional spelling bee at Lewiston-Porter Intermediate School. The competition, which also included bees for fourth- and third-graders, is sponsored by New York Spelling Bee, a private organization that has been running spelling bees across the state since 1989.

The performance was an encore for Frankie, who took first in last year's regional spelling bee for fourth-graders and placed eighth in the state finals.

Frankie knocked off 13 words, including "associate" and "suede," before subduing second-place finisher Stephen Gorney, a Lewiston-Porter Intermediate School pupil who slipped up on the word "exceed." Frankie spelled it correctly, and then nailed the regional title by spelling "stirrup." Kelly Kidwell, Stephen's classmate, placed third.

All three will compete in the state finals to be held April 30 in Auburn.

"This is such an honor. I can't believe I won again," the loquacious Frankie told the crowd and went on in true Academy Award fashion to thank everybody who helped him study. They ranged from his father and mother -- whose lucky necklace he wore during competition -- to his grandmother and a cornucopia of relatives and friends, as well as his former third-grade "teacher, Miss H. (Halgash), for working with me."

Pupils from Niagara County's Lockport, Niagara Falls, Niagara-Wheatfield, Barker, Royalton-Hartland and Newfane public school districts and St. John de LaSalle Catholic School in Niagara Falls competed in the three bees.

Emily McClemont of Lewiston-Porter took first place in the third-grade competition, followed by Sean Richardson, also of Lew-Port, in second and Colby Miller of Middleport Elementary School in the Royalton-Hartland district in third.

Lew-Port also did well at the fourth-grade level with Peter Cianchetti placing first and Antonio Guerrucci second. Brianna Frain of Lockport's Charles A. Upson Elementary School placed third.

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