Three of the Crossroads’ most stellar spellers have weathered their first day in Washington, D.C., where they’re facing off against more than 560 students in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The weeklong competition began Monday with a multiple choice test all of the spellers took together.

Brylie Koopman, who won the regional title against 10 other county champions, is representing the Crossroads at the national competition. Brylie, 14, said the vocabulary portion of Monday’s test was challenging but that she was confident going into the first round of oral spelling Tuesday. For the first round, spellers get a list of words to study from, Brylie said. The Howell Middle School student has a tried-and-true study system that includes repeatedly writing words on paper until she feels they’re memorized and writing in bright colors to help with memorization.

Although Brylie said she was a little nervous after Monday’s written test, she doesn’t think the full event is an intimidating as she expected.

“It isn’t really as overwhelming as it seems (on television),” she said.

No spellers were eliminated Monday. Instead, they’ll participate in two rounds of oral spelling Tuesday and Wednesday. As soon as a speller incorrectly spells a word in the preliminary rounds, they are eliminated from the competition.

Also representing the Crossroads at the national competition are Aaron Ehsan, 11, of Victoria, and Caroline O’Donnell, 10, of Port Lavaca. The students are participating through a new program called RSVBee, which was created before the 2018 bee to allow more students to compete. This is Aaron’s second year competing in the national bee.

Texas has more representatives in the competition than any other state, according to Scripps. There are 69 students from Texas competing this year.

The finals, which are broadcast on ESPN, are Thursday.

Ciara McCarthy covers local government for the Victoria Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can reach her at or at 580-6597 or on Twitter at @mccarthy_ciara.

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Health Reporter

Ciara McCarthy covers local government for the Advocate as a Report for America corps member. You can contact her by emailing

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