CLEVELAND – About a half dozen students from Northeast Ohio are competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

There are a total of 281 competitors from all over the world in Washington, D.C. this week vying for the title.

"You just have to work really hard," explains Kaitlin Hall, 14, of Avon. She is competing for the second year in a row. "You can't go in just a naturally smart person and do well. You have to put a lot of hours in and a lot of hard work and that's what will get you success."

The preliminary round began Tuesday, the semi-finals follow and everything wraps up on Thursday with the championship finals taking place.

"Everything is nerve-wracking about a spelling bee," says Elias Kondolios, 14, of Warren. This is his first time competing in the national competition. Kondolios won his very first spelling bee when he was in 1st grade. "You're sitting up there in front of who knows how many people spelling words that you can trip up on but at the end you're glad you did it."

This year, competitors range in age from 8 to 15 years old. After 8th grade, students are no longer eligible to compete on the national level.

"The challenge is just trying to memorize the definitions," explains Ferdian Aditama, 13, of Barberton, who is also competing in Scipps for the first time. "I can probably figure out how to spell a lot of words because of the origins and stuff but having to know the definition as well, it's a lot more memory space in your brain."

Last year's winning word was k-n-a-i-d-e-l, which is a dumpling usually served in soup.