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Spelling bee champions ready for regional contest

March 19, 2011 at 9:03 p.m.
Updated March 18, 2011 at 10:19 p.m.

Andrew Bernhard

Regional Spelling Bee Prizes

First place:

All-expense paid trip to Washington, D.C., for bee week from Victoria Advocate

$100 savings bond - The Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, donated by Jay Sugarman in honor of his father

One-year subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica Online, donated by Encyclopedia Britannica

Second place:

Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition, donated by Merriam-Webster

One-year subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica Online

Third place:

One-year subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica Online

Fourth place:

$20 gift certificate donated by the Scripps National Spelling Bee

Fifth place:

$20 gift certificate donated by the Scripps National Spelling Bee


WHAT: 22nd Annual Regional Spelling Bee sponsored by the Victoria Advocate and the Region III Education Service Center

WHEN: 6 p.m., Tuesday

WHERE: Victoria East High School, 4103 E. Mockingbird Lane

OTHER CHAMPION SPELLERSEricson Baker Joshua Blake LaDue Mikhayla JohnsonScott Miller Pauline NegreteLauryn Poindexter Alex Sigtenhorst

County: Jackson

Grade: 5

School: Edna Elementary School

What is your favorite part about doing the regional spelling bee?:"The feeling that I get inside when I spell a word right."

County: Lavaca

Grade: 6

School: Hallettsville Junior High School

Other activities: Joshua is involved in the Future Scientists of America, volunteering and won a gold medal for Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo art contest.

County: DeWitt

Grade: 8

School: Westhoff School

Other activities: Mikhayla likes to read, plays sports and collect rocks.

County: Goliad

Grade: 4

School: Goliad Intermediate School

Other activities: Scott enjoys Boy Scouts and playing video games.

County: Jackson

Grade: 6

School: Edna Junior High

Other activities: Swimming and dance

County: Calhoun

Grade: 6

School: Travis Middle School

County: Victoria

Grade: 8

School: Nazareth Academy

Other activities: Video games

A WORD FROM THE SPELLERSJoshua Becan Nicole Berkovsky Andrew BernhardHanna HensonAlex Liu

County: Lavaca

Grade: 8

School: Hallettsville Junior High

Other activities: Hunting, fishing and working cattle.

What is your favorite part about doing the regional spelling bee?: "Probably getting up there in front of all those people and making myself known and my family proud."

County: DeWitt

Grade: 7

School: Yoakum Junior High

Other activities: Nicole also enjoys band, art and athletics.

What is your favorite part about doing the regional spelling bee?:"I think meeting people and just being there that's probably the best part about it and getting to compete against other people. It's fun."

County: Victoria

School: Our Lady of Victory

Grade: 7

Other activities: Andrew plays soccer and is involved in the band.

What is your strategy for spelling words you don't know?:"Some words it certainly helps to know the language of origin, and if I don't know, then I just ask for the language of origin and try to sound it out."

County: Goliad

Grade: 8

School: Goliad Middle School

Other activities: Hanna enjoys running, baking and 4-H.

How do you spell words you don't know?: "Usually I have some idea of how to spell them, but if I don't sometimes the definition helps."

County: Calhoun

Grade: 5

School: HJM Elementary School

Other activities: Alex was also the 2010 school champion and the county alternate. He's been involved in the National Piano Guild for four years and plays soccer, violin and video games.

What is the hardest part about studying for the regional bee?: "Maybe too many words and pronunciations."

Tuesday's regional spelling bee will bring together 12 of the area's brightest students for a shot at scholastic prizes and a trip to compete nationally in Washington, D.C.

Spellers are gearing up by doing everything from singing word lists to studying websites.

It will be 12-year-old Pauline Negrete's third time at the regional meet following a lifetime of spelling bees.

The returning champion won the competition last year and competed in Washington, D.C., at the Scripps Howard National Spelling bee.

"Everything's fun to me," she said. "Just getting to get on stage and getting to spell."

The Edna Junior High student is soft-spoken, cool and serious about spelling. She splits her time between activities like swimming and dance and often studies in the car on her way to activities.

Her study method of choice is painstaking. She writes all of her words over and over. At least five times each.

"I've been working very hard, and I just hope that whatever happens is going to be OK," she said.

Spelling bee newbie Alex Sigtenhorst, a Nazareth Academy eighth-grader, is a stark contrast. She's chatty, opinionated and fidgeted through all 26 rounds of her last bee.

Studying for the regional bee means getting creative.

"I sing the words to myself," she said. "It helps me study with all the different subjects. I also, as you probably saw at the last bee, I spell out the word with my finger."

She avoids meticulous studying and likes learning with her hands preferable wrapped around a game controller.

"I love video games. I love my Nintendo," she said. She recently bought a Scripps Spelling Bee game to help with the studying.

"I haven't been playing my Nintendo in a while, so that game gave me an excuse, and it also taught me a lot about words," she said.

And while studying takes many students hours, computers and even help from parents, in the end the spelling sport narrows down to a final strategy for Alex Liu, a Calhoun County champion from HJM Elementary School.

"I sound it out, and I try spelling it," he said.



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