Eighth grader Estephanie Estrada claimed the Middle School Spelling Bee championship this week after correctly spelling the word pearlescent. Fifth grader Ryan Smith placed second in the competition.
Winning the Spelling Bee has been a goal for Estephanie, whose native language is Spanish. She explains that practicing her spelling, usually every day, has helped her learn the English language. “Learning English by myself was a challenge (and I am always up for a challenge) and I have a love for words, learning new ones, especially long ones. Being able to show that I was capable of more than just the basics of English, that’s something not a lot of people can do!” she says. She also adds that her passion for reading has helped her become a strong speller because “I learn new words and you can use sentences to understand them more. Reading allows me to see different kinds of words.”
Runner-up Ryan Smith has been studying the Scripps National Spelling Bee for three years and was a two-time champion at his former school, Andrews Academy. He says, “spelling consumes me and relaxes me” and practiced all through winter break with the help of his mom, who quizzed him regularly. He studied the origins and pronunciations of words on the Scripps list in addition to the spelling. “Reading is my number one passion. It’s probably what led me to love spelling. I love reading because it draws me into magical tales and worlds. I’ve read way too many books to count so as I’ve read all sorts of words that help me with different spelling patterns,” he says.
Estephanie will represent MICDS at the semifinal competition on March 11 at McKendree University. A victory in the semifinals will qualify her for the State competition on March 19, also at McKendree.
Congratulations to Estephanie and Ryan, and good luck to Estephanie as she continues in the competition!