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

Andrew Bernhard

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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