At Lodi Middle School, victory is a four-letter word. C-o-d-y, that is.
Cody Faccini, 13, placed second Dec. 8 at the San Joaquin County Spelling Bee and now has his sights set on a state competition, where he will compete against hundreds for the title of California's best speller.
But for all his new-found fame, Faccini remains fairly unfazed.
"I always ace my spelling tests," he said, fingering a medal he won at the competition Stockton on Wednesday. His mother, Kathy Faccini, said her son began reading when he was twoand-a-half, though neither she nor her husband know where he picked it up.
Since then, words have been a breeze to the boy who correctly spelled facsimile, calliope, gluttonous and ukulele to cinch his way into the California State Junior High Spelling Competition.
"I just think of where I've heard that word before," Faccini said of his strategy. "Then I can get almost any type of word."
Many spelling bee contenders brush up on their vocabulary by toting around large dictionaries and engaging in copious note-taking.
"I'm not that kind of spelling bee kid," Faccini clarified. "I just don't identify with that."
Kathy Faccini said her son did take to reading the dictionary, for fun, last year. But since then, Cody has moved on to other reference materials.
"This year I have a new best friend," he said. "My old buddy, the Thesaurus."
Contact reporter Sara Cardine at firstname.lastname@example.org.