Name: Logainne Schwarzandgrubeniere
School: Magna Magnet
Spelling Bee technique: Forearm writing
Background: The youngest competitor and daughter of two fathers: Mr. Schwarz and Mr. Grubeniere.
Actor: Sarah Saltzberg
School: Broad Meadow
Favorite Subject: English
Favorite Teacher: 1st grade teacher Ms. Kramer and 2nd grade teacher Ms. Delvelle
Spelling Bee experience: None. "I was a terrible speller."
Background: "I was sort of loud and fun and popular when I was in grade school. Very bossy, I used to run my own school afterschool for the kids in the neighborhood. I used to make up workbooks for them, God only knows why they did it, but they did and during the summer!"
Best part of being Logainne: "The faux sophistication and the intensity. I love the intensity, [though] it's exhausting. She's like a grown up in a 10 year-old's body, but she still is vulnerable and a 10-year-old at the end of the day.
Name: Marcy Park
School: Our Lady of Intermittent Sorrows
Background: National finalist for Virginia who speaks six languages among a bounty of other talents.
Actor: Deborah S. Craig
School: Carlton Palmore Elementary, Lakeland Highlands Junior High
Favorite Subject: Vocabulary "We used to get words from Reader's Digest everyday. I remember learning sesquipedalian (having many syllables)."
Favorite Teacher: Mr. Coords (he was the teacher of Vocabulary)
Spelling Bee experience: Won three spelling bees. "I know I lost one on 'exercise.'"
Background: "I was my character. So much, except that I was a little goofier. She's not as much of the class clown I was. I was in the gifted program, a straight-A student, won the jumprope contest, handwriting contest, a cheerleader, I ran track, a concert pianist, played softball, science club, student government vice-president."
Best part of being Marcy: "I like that she is a multi-faceted child, she's not what she appears to be. And I feel she also breaks the stereotype of what people perceive her to be."
Name: Olive Ostrovsky
School: Garrison Elementary
Spelling Bee technique: Silent talking into her hand
Background: Daughter of a busy-working father and mother who is on an extended ashram in India.
Actor: Celia Keenan-Bolger
School: Cornelius Golightly Magnet School (Detroit, MI)
Favorite Subject: Math and Reading
Favorite Teacher: Third grade teacher Sandra Petapiece
Spelling Bee experience: Class spelling bees. "I was no good at it."
Background: "I was like one of four white kids in my elementary school. Oddly, because I was a minority, I was very popular in an obscure way. I was a talker."
Best part of being Olive: "Her vulnerability. I think we're very vulnerable as adults and it's something that is not looked upon in a good way. And as a kid, I like being able to reflect something on stage that audiences can relate to. She's rooted in a very emotional place, a little more normal, more grounded."
Name: William Barfee
School: Cold Spring Country Day
Spelling Bee technique: "The Magic Foot"
Background: Returning finalist with a mucous-membrane disorder who was eliminated last year due to health reasons.
Actor: Dan Fogler
School: Windmill Montessori School (Brooklyn, NY)
Favorite Subject: Art, Science
Favorite Teacher: Play director Ms. Eliasoph and young radical Mr. Rockwell
Spelling Bee experience: One bee. "I was so nervous, I spelled 'jewel' wrong and it's been haunting me for my life."
Background: "I was a terrible student. I got by in a very 'Ferris Bueller'-y kind of way; a lot of charm, the class clown. I respected my elders, so they let me slide on other stuff."
Best part of being William: "The feeling of getting lost in that age again. Being a kid, looking around and really feeling like 'God, I'm on the playground again.' Such a nice alive feeling. And he is strongly based on my growing up, my brother had a lot of allergies and problems. He's an alter ego for another one of my family growing up, so I love him like a brother."
Name: Leaf Coneybear
School: Home school
Spelling Bee technique: Visceral expulsion
Background: Home-schooled second runner up of the Putnam Basin district. One of seven earthy-named children.
Actor: Jesse Tyler Ferguson
School: Our Lady of Fatima (Albuquerque, NM)
Favorite Subject: English, Arts & Crafts
Favorite Teacher: First grade teacher Sister Edith
Spelling Bee experience: Classroom bees. "I don't even remember making out of the first round."
Background: "I was extremely shy. I faded into the background, tried not to make a scene, tried not to draw attention to myself."
Best part of being Leaf: "I like his simplicity, that everything is surface with him. He's a nature-loving mama's boy. And his inability to edit. In that age, you just don't know how to edit. There aren't a lot of boundaries."
Name: Charlito "Chip" Tolentino
Background: Last year's returning champion. Also a little league pitcher.
School: Thomas Jefferson School for Science and Technology (Virginia)
Favorite Subject: Music and Math
Favorite Teacher: Chorus teacher Ms. Clark
Spelling Bee experience: Third grade bee. "It burned me because I got eliminated on the word 'gardener.'"
Background: "I was that loud, fat kid in the corner. I was pretty heavy, I really didn't discover sports until high school, so I was pretty chubby with big thick glasses. The overachiever [with] the mullet haircut. Cracking jokes all the time."
Best part of being Chip: "Truthfully, I just love this ensemble, it's such a great ensemble piece. And, obviously, my song is a big payoff for the build up, sort of a release you might say, for me in the show. I enjoy there's sort of no fourth wall, so the audience can become part of the show."
Name: Mitchell Mahoney
Background: Fulfilling community service work with the bee.
Actor: Derrick Baskin
School: Mascoutah Elementary (Mascoutah, IL)
Favorite Subject: Math
Favorite Teacher: Geography teacher Mr. Baclar
Spelling Bee experience: Seventh grade bee. "I lost on 'piece'. I spelled the wrong one, 'peace.'"
Background: "I fell through the cracks. I was a band guy, played the trombone. I was not geeky, but not a popular kid; too geeky to be a popular kid and too popular to be a geeky kid.
Best part of being Mitch: "When he first enters, he's not interested in the kids and I like that he kind of develops attention for the kids, that he could actually comfort someone."
Name: Rona Lisa Peretti
Background: A top Putnam County realtor serving her ninth consecutive year as host and a former bee champ herself.
Actor: Lisa Howard
School: King Elementary School (Akron, OH)
Favorite Subject: Language Arts
Favorite Teacher: Mrs. Landon (over a few grades)
Spelling Bee experience: None. Didn't pass the entry test. "I think because I was a bad test-taker."
Background: "I was a tomboy, I was definitely athletic. All my friends were all good at sports because that was the 'cool' thing to be good at. I have two older brothers, so I had to be competitive."
Best part of being Rona: "I enjoy the almost improv of it because with each of the new [audience] guest volunteers, I don't say the same things about them. It definitely keeps you on your toes. And plus, I get to sing a lot in the show."
Name: Douglas Panch
Background: Last-minute replacement judge and Vice Principal of Lake Hemingway-Dos Passos Junior High.
Actor: Jay Reiss
School: Parkway Elementary (Plainview, Long Island)
Favorite Subject: Science
Favorite Teacher: Mrs. (Bunny) Kleinfeld and the hot teacher Mrs. Lubod
Spelling Bee experience: None.
Background: "I was a 'walker.' That means that I lived so close to school that I could walk. I loved when the woman would announce 'Everyone on the red/yellow bus, you are here and walkers, you are free to go.' Privilege, freedom! I was very average. In grade school, you're not really formed, you're still like finding your way."
Best part of being Douglas: "I enjoy all the guest speller interaction, that it changes nightly. Anything can happen!"