Merrimack Valley eighth-grader hopes second time at state bee spells ‘winner’

  • Merrimack Valley Middle School student Marshall Carey-Matthews talks with principal Kara Lamontagne in between classes on Thursday. Carey-Matthews will be facing tough competition at Saturday’s spelling bee at Concord’s Capitol Center for the Arts. GEOFF FORESTER / Monitor staff

Monitor staff
Published: 2/21/2019 4:02:33 PM

For most eighth-graders, nothing could be more exciting than going to Disney World.

But for Marshall Carey-Matthews, his idea of a “trip of a lifetime” is competing in the Scripps Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

That’s why the Merrimack Valley Middle Schooler told his family he was staying behind from their family vacation this week so he could have a chance to spell his way to the national competition.

The 2019 Union Leader State Spelling Bee at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord is on Saturday – and Carey-Matthews really wants to win. It’s his second time competing and he’ll face off with nearly 200 of the state’s top spellers for a chance to compete in Scripps in May.

His family left for a cruise to Disney cruise on Thursday, and Carey-Matthews will be staying with family friends while his family is away.

“A cruise is something I could do again later in life – I’ll never get the chance to go to D.C. and compete in that spelling bee again,” Carey-Matthews said.

It wasn’t an easy decision, but his mother understands why her son did it.

“This is his sport,” his mother Lorrie Carey said. “For a kid like him, a spelling bee is similar to a cross country championship or the homecoming football game – those are his big competitions.”

“I give him a lot of credit for making that choice, I don’t think most kids would,” she added.

Carey-Matthews came in third last year at the state bee, and said he’s been studying words since then to improve his odds at the number one slot.

“It’s a big gamble,” his mother said. “If he wins, awesome. If not, it’s going to be heartbreaking.”

As a sixth-grader, he came in third in his school. In seventh-grade, he won at his school and came in third in the state.

“It’s so important in this era where we put kids down for being lazy and academically connected, to know that kids do have hopes and dreams and they aren’t always sports,” Carey said.

Carey described her son as a shy boy with a dry sense of humor. She said he comes alive when he’s spelling on stage.

“He really engages with whoever is talking to him – the rest of the world goes away,” she said.

Carey-Matthews said his favorite word is Bewusstseinslage, a German word meaning a state of consciousness or a feeling devoid of sensory components.

“I just think it sounds fun when you say it out loud,” he said.

After his family gets back from the cruise, Carey-Matthews will fly down to Florida to spend a few days with them in Disney World, his mom said.

He said he feels honored to represent his school.

“I know people are counting on me to do well and cheering me on,” he said.

If you go

What: 2019 Union Leader State Spelling Bee

Where: Capitol Center for the Arts: 44 S Main St., Concord

When: Top 30 finalist will compete on stage starting at 1 p.m.

Cost: The event is free and open to the public

For more information:

Other local spellers

Landon Hoyt, Allenstown Elementary School; Oliver Andrews, Andover Elementary School; Arianna Campbell, Armand R. Dupont School; Jackson Hooker, Belmont Middle School; Sudeshna Chakraborty, Bow Memorial School; Avery Taylor, Canterbury Elementary School; Kaitlyn  Osborne, Center Woods School; Xavier Volpe, Chichester Central School; Jadon Shi, Christa McAuliffe School; Mia Czarnecki, Deerfield Community School; Luke Andrews, Dunbarton Elementary School; Mercy Drolet, Elm Street School; Jacob  LaPage, Epsom Central School; Benjamin Suranyi, Gilford Middle School; Nick Austin, Gilmanton School; Lauren Meade, Henniker Community School; Jack Hebert, Hillsboro-Deering Elementary School; Payton Twombley, Hillsboro-Deering Middle School; Ayvree Hamilton, Hooksett Memorial School; Reagan Lorio, Kearsarge Regional Elem. School at New London; Oliver Boyer, Kearsarge Regional Elementary School at Bradford; Thomas Shepherd, Kearsarge Regional Middle School; Constance  Russo, Northwood Elementary School; Olivia Cochran, Penacook Elementary School; Sadie  Whitney, Rundlett Middle School; Benjamin Rothenberg, Shaker Road School; Killian Considine, Simonds Elementary School; Michael Thresher, St. John Regional School; Margaret Sprunger, Sutton Central Elementary School; Joey Richardson, The Beech Hill School; Sarah Guillemette, Weare Middle School; Usman Waheed, Webster School; Beni  Griffin, Winnisquam Regional Middle School and Viktor Varga, Woodland Heights Elementary School.

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