DURHAM, NC (WTVD) -- More than 500 students are taking the stage in Washington, DC for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, many of whom are competing for the first time.
While Lucas Middle School eighth-grader Hanna Closs would fall into that category, it's not her family's first brush with the competition; Hanna's older sister Bettie competed three times.
"Spelling has always been there, and it's been a very fun thing to do," explained Hanna Closs.
The younger Closs credits her older sister for inspiration and assistance in preparing for the competition.
"I've never seen two siblings work as well together as the Closs sisters. It's amazing," said Lucas Middle School teacher Elizabeth Agoranos, who has taught both students.
Agoranos was particularly proud of how the Closs family has served as positive role models for Lucas Middle School and public schools.
Students and teachers wore handmade yellow shirts, many with the words 'Team Hanna' written on them, and watched the Spelling Bee in class Tuesday, cheering on Closs from afar. Outside the school's main office, signs of support hung on the windows.
With the strong support from friends, family, and classmates, Closs is focused simply on the spelling.
"I'm going to miss it when I leave eighth grade," Closs said.
Closs spelled her first word 'morpheme' correctly.
In total, 20 North Carolina students are competing for the title, including 13 in our area.