7th grader spells 'kabuki' to win Regional Spelling Bee

March 22, 2011 at 9:03 p.m.
Updated March 21, 2011 at 10:22 p.m.

Andrew Bernhard spells "Kabuki" correctly, winning the Regional Spelling Bee Tuesday evening at Victoria East.

Andrew Bernhard spells "Kabuki" correctly, winning the Regional Spelling Bee Tuesday evening at Victoria East.

As soon as Andrew Bernhard heard the word, he said he knew he had the Regional Spelling Bee champ title in the backpack.

Cool and collected, the seventh-grader at Our Lady of Victory rattled off the spelling to an auditorium on the edge of their seats.

"K-a-b-u-k-i. Kabuki," Andrew would later explain, is a form of Japanese theater.

"When I heard ('kabuki'), I was just kinda happy that I knew what the word was and how to spell it," he said. "I was nervous on the inside," he finally admitted.

But it surely didn't show throughout the 12 rounds, which were held in Victoria East High School in a competition sponsored by the Advocate.

The softspoken student said his mom, Melissa, helped him study words by calling them out for him to spell.

"I don't know if kabuki was on there," Andrew's mom said. "I figured, oh he knows it. He knows it."

While Andrew shook hand after hand offering congratulations, his dad, Randall, bragged for him.

"He's really modest," Andrew's dad said. "He sets a very high bar for himself."

The proud father said his son is highly academic and will be competing in another academic competition the next weekend.

Looking at his son juggle the two spelling bee trophies from Tuesday night, he joked to his wife, "Melissa, we're going to have to get another shelf."

For beating out 11 competitors to win the Regional Spelling Bee, Andrew won an all-expense-paid trip to the national competition in Washington, D.C.

Andrew will soon be competing in the state geography competition, which also offers the chance to win a trip to the nation's capital.

Andrew said he'll be studying hard in the upcoming weeks but that he thinks the competitions are fun.

Just then, Andrew's dad offered him a chance to celebrate the win at his favorite restaurant, Olive Garden.

"Maybe not tonight," Andrew replied.

He had homework to tend to, he said.



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