Usually, teens see Washington, D.C., as part of a class field trip or family vacation. But this week, a Palm Beach Gardens student is taking to the nation’s capital with a very different agenda.
Thirteen-year-old Tommy Spurlin is in D.C. to take part in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
The preliminaries began May 24 with a multiple choice exam. Two rounds of on-stage oral spelling will take place May 25, followed by the finals on May 26.
The St. Mark’s Episcopal School student first won his school spelling bee in February. He then took his skills to regionals, where he qualified for nationals.
He is one of 285 students in the 2016 competition. Eleven of those are from Florida.
Tommy has had a love for the subject since the beginning.
“My mom loved to quiz me on spelling, just spelling random words. She said my favorite word to spell was umbrella,” he told WPTV.
However, spelling isn’t Tommy’s only forte. A teacher told the Palm Beach Post the teen also excels at math. He even placed first at a competition in Palm Beach County two years ago.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee winner takes home quite the prize: $40,000. So, what are his plans if he wins the money?
“I think my parents said I can do anything I want with it, within reason,” he told WPBF. “I’ll probably save up for college, though.”
The Bee will be broadcast on ESPN Thursday, May 26, at 8 p.m. At that point, only about 15 spellers will be left.