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When I was in grade school, I wasn't a good speller.

I loved reading, I loved writing, but I never paid attention to the small details -- like spelling words correctly.

I never entered a spelling bee, and my teachers never recommended that I should. My spelling challenges changed when my mother introduced me to the game of Scrabble.

My mother, grandmother and most of my aunts were really good at the game. They had fierce battles, playing for hours and hours at a time. I recall many family gatherings where my mother and grandmother would battle out games of Scrabble well into the night.

So I started playing. Scrabble doesn't necessarily reward people with big vocabularies, though those don't hurt your game. Good scrabble players, however, are kings at knowing how words are constructed, and master two- and three-letter word combinations.

I became a better speller just that way.

Soon, I was able to challenge my mother and grandmother -- and beat them once in a great while.

I mention Scrabble and spelling for a reason.

The county's best spellers -- 12 of them -- face off Tuesday night in the Regional Spelling Bee. The winner gets a trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Pressure? Nah.

Well, OK, just a little.

Details of the event are posted below, but in case you can't get out and support these kids, we'll have live coverage of the Spelling Bee on our website. You can tune into our excellent live coverage starting at 6 p.m.

IF YOU GO WHAT: The Regional Spelling Bee

WHEN: 6 p.m., Tuesday

WHERE: Victoria College’s Johnson Symposium, 2200 E. Red River St.

COST: Free

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Pauline Negrete smiles as she takes her seat with her two trophies after winning the 23rd annual Regional Spelling Bee last year. Negrete won many prizes, including a trip to Washington, D.C., to compete in the SCRIPPS National Spelling Bee.