The top spellers from Allegany, Cattaraugus, Chautauqua, Erie, Genesee, Livingston, Niagara, Orleans and Wyoming counties and the City of Buffalo will compete in the finals at 1:30 p.m. Sunday in the auditorium of the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society Museum.
The winner will represent The Buffalo News and Western New York in the national finals, to be held the week of May 28 in Washington, D.C.
In January, 168 schools conducted individual competitions. On Feb. 8, all school champions took a standardized written test to determine the lineup for this year's competition.
The local champion and an adult escort will fly via Southwest Airlines on an all-expense-paid trip to Washington for the national finals the week of May 28.
In addition, the local title carries a $100 cash award, $50 in expense money for the trip and an engraved pen and pencil set.
Each of the next four finishers will receive an engraved pen and pencil set and the following cash prizes: second place, $75; third, $50; fourth, $35; and fifth, $25. A special $25 award will be given to the contestant who scored the highest grade on the written test. Traditionally, this announcement is withheld until the conclusion of the local competition.
Other prizes will include a Webster's Third New International Dictionary unabridged, copyright 2002, Merriam Webster's Eleventh Edition of the Dictionary, the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, gift certificates from Amazon.com and gifts from the Scripps National Spelling Bee and The News.
This year's finalists, who will compete Sunday, are:
Kelsey Shea, Grade 8, Shea Homeschool, Buffalo; James Gilfert, Grade 7, Immaculate Conception, Wellsville; Anthony Pivarunas, Grade 7, Children of Mary Homeschool, Elma; Morgan Stewart, Grade 8, Fredonia Middle, Fredonia; Elizabeth Dierenfield, Grade 8, Nardin Academy, Buffalo; Jessica Briatico, Grade 8, Depew Middle, Depew; Zachary Pace, Grade 8, Clarence Middle, Clarence.
Also, Justin Watt, Grade 6, William Street School, Lancaster; Joshua May, Grade 6, Our Lady of Pompeii, Lancaster; Laura Garbes, Grade 8, Nativity of Our Lord, Orchard Park; Joseph Ray, Grade 8, Amherst Middle, Amherst; Kerry Kennedy, Grade 7, Nichols Middle, Buffalo; Jessica Emick, Grade 8, Portville Central, Portville; Robert Seager, Grade 8, Wilson Middle, Wilson.
Also, Emily Stoll, Grade 8, North Park Middle, Lockport; Sara Doberstein, Grade 8, Clifford H. Wise Middle, Medina; Amber Finan, Grade 7, Alexander Central, Alexander; Stephen McLaurin, Grade 8, Attica Central, Attica; Mitchell Rathbun, Grade 6, R.J. Connell Intermediate, Livonia; and Eileen Cody, Grade 8, SS. Peter & Paul, Hamburg.