PLATTSBURGH - Leo Lee has returned.
Though the Plattsburgh City School District sixth-grader didn't bring home the gold at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C, it was an experience he said he'd never forget.
"It was really fun. I made a lot of friends," said Leo.
Leo made it to Round 3 of the May 26-28 competition, just one round shy of reaching the semifinals. When given the word "pericoronitis" - which is defined as a dental condition in which tissue around the wisdom tooth has become infected - Leo spelled it as "parachorinitis."
"I didn't know it," admitted Leo.
Jason Lee, Leo's father, was as shocked as his son when he heard the word.
"He studied thousands of words but he just didn't know that one," said Jason. "The words were just more difficult in that round. The good thing was it was a great education for him and now he's getting even more serious about next year."
Though it's only been a matter of days since returning from Washington, Leo does have his sights set on returning. In order to do that, he'll again have to win the Champlain Valley Educational Services Regional Spelling Bee next February - something for which he has already begun studying diligently.
"I'm going to need to work harder," said Leo.
If Leo doesn't make it back to nationals next year, his father said all wouldn't be lost.
"The majority of the participants this year [at the national bee] were eighth-graders and the winner was an eighth-grader," said Jason. "So, maybe his year will be in eighth grade."
"I still had fun and got to see some cool museums," Leo added about this year's trip.
And, what does Leo have to say to the people who supported him in his stint at nationals?
"Hi! And, thanks for rooting for me," he said.