Third-grade spelling champ calmly, cooly makes his way to title

By Michael Fitzpatrick

Ethan Crevda stood in front of a microphone in the Liberty Elementary cafeteria as the school’s entire third-grade class sat crisscross-applesauce in front of him.

In such an environment, what third-grader wouldn’t be nervous? There are men and women well into middle age who get dizzy and break into a flop sweat at just the thought they might have to stand up and say their name at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon with just 100 people present.

Apparently not Crevda, who as the late Stuart Scott used to say on SportsCenter, was as cool as the other side of the pillow.

He found himself in front of all those young eyes, as well as the eyes of a smattering of parents and teachers, on the precipice of winning the school’s third-grade spelling bee.

All he had to do was spell the word “junior” (a fifth-grade word) correctly. He did so with little difficulty, no stammering, no asking to start again, thus clinching the crown.

Crevda wasn’t nervous, but his mother, Monika, admitted she was a nervous wreck.

“I was sweating bullets and I was shaking,” she said half kidding.

After winning the title, there was no champagne shower for the champion, because alas, it’s frowned upon to pop bottles in a room full of third-graders, but he did get a congratulatory hug from his father, Mike. Mike walked the same halls of Liberty growing up in North Ridgeville and went on to graduate from the high school in 1989.

Mike never won a spelling bee, although Monika said she remembered being in one when she attended school in Bedford.

“It’s in his blood,” Monika said of Ethan’s ability to compete in spelling bees. “He’s very good under pressure and I’m very proud of that.”

The competition started out with a field of 22 spelling words like “able” and finished with three finalists – Alaya Wilson and Ayla Polasky were eliminated late – trying to spell words such as “facility” and “guitar.”

“It went really, really well,” said Jordan Leveglia, a fourth-year teacher, who organized the event. “We were just so proud of the kiddos getting up in front of everyone and being able to spell, so we’re proud of all of them.”

In the second-grade spelling bee a year ago, Crevda finished second overall. And it’s not like he spent the summer grinding away to make sure the first-place certificate and medal wouldn’t elude him this year.
He didn’t even do any cramming on the night before the event.

“I said you need to study,” Monika recalled. “But Ethan didn’t think it was necessary … and ended up winning anyways.”

According to his parents, Ethan would rather be playing sports, which might be why he chose to wear a pair of burnt orange wristbands for the competition.

“He loves wrestling (WWE-style), monster trucks and computer games,” Monika said.

“He plays basketball and baseball and he golfs,” Mike said.

Ethan’s not a big reader but will read up on things he’s interested in. He’ll
devour wrestling magazines.

“He loves the movie “Titanic” and anything that has to do with the Titanic. He’ll read things that interest him,” Mike Crevda said.

And can spell with the best of them.

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