The amphitheater is humming: teachers hover, students murmur over spelling sheets and proud parents deliver the last gasps of pep talks. After final embraces and a tear or two, the spelling competitors are swept backstage.
It is sixth grader Jybr Reynoso Hidrogos’ second time competing. He made the top five last year, but fell short of a trophy. Every day since, he’s spent two hours or more practicing spelling. That’s what helped him beat out his classmates and win a preliminary contest to wind up here today.