CAROGA - It was Christmas in May on Friday as Wheelerville Union Free School gave eighth-grader and second-year Fulton County Spelling Bee champion Adam Ferrari a very merry sendoff.
Ferrari will travel to Washington, D.C., on Sunday to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee for the second straight year.
In 2011, Ferrari won the Fulton County Spelling Bee by correctly spelling the word "poinsettia." In March, he correctly spelled "mistletoe" for the win, leading to this year's Christmas-themed schoolwide assembly in the gymnasium.
Harry Brooks, interim principal/superintendent at the Wheelerville Union Free School District, left, congratulates eighth-grader Adam Ferrari, winner of the 2012 Fulton County Spelling Bee, as he sits in his chair of honor Friday during a send-off assembly at the school.
The Leader-Herald/Bill Trojan
"We're really excited for him," said English teacher Lynn Lair, who organized the assembly. "He's a driven kid."
At the assembly, Ferrari was given a poinsettia and a bowtie shaped like mistletoe. The students joined in a schoolwide karaoke as they sang Justin Beiber's "Mistletoe," but with a twist.
The lyrics to the chorus were adapted to "But I'mma be spelling 'm-i-s-t-l-e-t-o-e,'" instead of "But I'mma be under the mistletoe."
Ferrari also was given a commemorative T-shirt decorated with a photo of mistletoe and the adapted lyrics to "Mistletoe."
"They really outdid themselves. This whole community has gone above and beyond what we expected," Adam's father, Robert, said.
Interim Principal and Superintendent Harry Brooks said family was the perfect way to describe the close-knit Wheelerville community.
"Adam is a really great young man," Brooks said. "There is such a feeling of family here and everyone is really genuinely wishing him well."
Ferrari said the win this year seemed a bit magical. When he was practicing for the March Bee, he said to his mother, "I bet mistletoe is going to be my winning word."
"It was a very big coincidence, or it's just magic," Ferrari said. "This is like the second half of a magical journey."
But Ferrari knows it takes more than magic to win as he continues training, much as he did last year.
His parents help him practice for the national competition by studying a booklet that was part of his prize for the winning the county spelling bee and a list of 400 words provided by Scripps. He also trained with a website that would speak words and challenge him to type them with the correct spellings.
"I'm doing better than last year with the online tests," Ferrari said.
Ferrari is speller No. 158 out of 278 students.
Last year, he passed through the oral rounds 2 and 3 and up to round 4, which is the semifinals.
"I'm going to get to complete what I started last year," Ferrari said.
Ferrari has been competing in the Fulton County Spelling Bee since he was in fourth grade, and this will be his last year to compete.
The Leader-Herald, which sponsors the Fulton County Spelling Bee, will pay for Ferrari and one of his parents to go to the national bee, but both his parents will visit the nation's capital with him. Cyndee Ferrari said her son's passion for learning started early as he began reading at 2 years old.
She even has home video of her son reading words "far beyond his comprehension" and leafing through her catalogs reading product descriptions.
At kindergarten orientation, Ferrari asked a librarian if he could finish reading a book to the class that she was reading, Cyndee said.
"He loved reading at a young age, and he loved music before he could walk," Cyndee said.
According to his Scripps biography, Ferrari also is an avid golfer and plays basketball and soccer as well.
He also has a passion for cooking and hopes one day to have a culinary career.
On Monday, the Ferraris will attend the Memorial Day barbecue.
Round one of the spelling bee, on Tuesday, will be a written test that includes 25 words. Rounds two and three are verbal and will take place on stage. Points are earned in the preliminary rounds for correctly spelled words.
According to www.spellingbee.com, preliminaries will be streamed live from 8 a.m. to 5:15 p.m. on Wednesday on ESPN3.com.
The semifinals will be broadcast from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. live on Thursday on ESPN2 and the finals will be broadcast from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Thursday live on ESPN.
Amanda Whistle covers Gloversville news. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.