NewsSpelling Bee


Speller, mom uproot home to make Scripps National Spelling Bee

Posted at 9:18 AM, May 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-27 19:52:51-04

Spellers and their families move mountains to make it to the Scripps National Spelling Bee. But to get Joshua Mason, 12, to his first national Bee, his family had to really move.

“I closed my eyes and jumped,” said his mom, Donna.

When Joshua just missed making nationals last year, it was the end of the road in his school district of Lancaster, Ohio, which doesn’t sponsor the Bee past elementary school, Donna said.

“I like learning a whole bunch of words. I love spelling,” Joshua said.

For him, spelling is part of his dream to becoming a Supreme Court justice — and they use a lot of big words that he loves. He wants to learn them all.

“He came home one day and said, 'I need one more chance. And all you have to do is move,'” Donna said. “He’s not a football player. This is what he wants to do.”

Within two months, she sold her home and moved over the border to Pickerington, where Joshua attends Diley Middle School. By March, he won the Spelling Bee there. The winning word — "forthright."

It may seem drastic — and it is — but Donna said she’ll do what it takes as a single mom for her son’s dreams.

They studied every day at the kitchen table, added 7,000 new words to his vocabulary this year. One day, Josh said he wants to be so great that he’ll come back and judge at the Bee.

Joshua and his mom know the odds are against them. There’s no illusions about that. But they’re going to keep on moving forward.

“I had a million reasons not to and only one reason I should,” Donna said. “But that was the bigger reason.”

Though he correctly spelled both of his words, Joshua did not score high enough on the preliminary vocabulary and spelling test. He was eliminated Wednesday. Of the 214 remaining spellers, just 49 advanced to the finals.

Donna and Joshua said they'll be back next year.

Gavin Stern is a national digital producer for the Scripps National Desk.