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Eighth-grader spells his way to second Bee title

The winning word was ‘diluent’

Kent ISD — Eighteen spellers were down to just two: Joshua Diocares, an eighth-grader at Ridge Park Charter Academy, in Grand Rapids, and Lakhshar Mitra, a seventh-grader at East Rockford Middle School. 

It was two-hours into the 47th Annual Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee, and the competition was intense as Joshua and Lakhshar went several rounds spelling words such as “ricoh” and “basilica.”

In the end, the word diluent secured Joshua’s as the repeat champion of the regional bee affiliated with the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which took place at Gerald R. Ford Presentational Museum. He also won the event in 2022.

Kent ISD Assistant Superintendent Ron Gorman congratulates Ridge Park Charter Academy eighth-grader Joshua Diocares for winning the 2024 Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee

Joshua said he is excited to head back to the Scripps National Spelling Bee Finals, May 26-30 at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in Maryland. Part of his prize for winning the 2024 Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee is a trip for himself and a parent to travel to the national competition. 

“I already know what to expect for the national competition and have learned from my mistakes from when I went earlier,” Joshua said. “There is also a lot of stuff that is nostalgic for me from when I went there the first time in sixth grade.”

To prepare, Joshua said he studies words of past champions by having his dad say each one and typing it on a notepad app.

“I used typing as a guide for how to spell the word and at the same time, I also visualized it in my mind,” he said. “As I say each letter, I also type them with my hands.” 

Eighteen students participated in the 47th Annual Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Spellers represented Allegan, Barry, Kent, Newaygo and Ottawa counties. Twelve students from Kent County represented Grand Rapids Public Schools, Rockford Public Schools, Grandville Public Schools, Kenowa Hills Public Schools and Forest Hills Public Schools. 

Rounding out the top four spellers were Elliott Covelle, a seventh-grader from Forest Hills Northern Middle School in third place, and Anne Barbutti, a seventh-grader from Ottawa’s Cityside Middle School and Patrick Burch, a seventh-grader from Ottawa’s Black River Public Schools, who tied for fourth place. 

The Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee is hosted by Kent ISD. 

Joshua Diocares, an eighth-grader at Ridge Park Charter Academy in Grand Rapids, spells the word “diluent” to win the 2024 Greater Grand Rapids Spelling Bee

Read more from Kent ISD:
Tech Center students triumph at HOSA, head to state
Find focus and a fresh start through auto mechanics

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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