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 Spelling Bee Champ Offers Words of Wisdom

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​Have you ever watched the Scripps National Spelling Bee? It's intense.

Middle school kids seem to easily whip out the orthography for words most people have never heard before. They're familiar with the origin of the word, grammatical use, and definition. All while their families and more than one million viewers watch nervously.

Well, in San Diego it all begins for a student at their school or district bee. Then, the winners advance to the San Diego Union-Tribune Countywide Spelling Bee​.

This year the Spelling Bee will be held on March 15 at the Hall of Champions in Balboa Park. The competition will be fierce with more than 100 spellers registered to attend. It will also be streamed live on ABC 10 News and live-tweeted by @SanDiegoCOE​.

In preparation for the bee, the 2015 countywide winner, Oona Flood of Encinitas, has some words of wisdom for new spellers.  

"I learned more than just words at the Spelling Bee," said the 15-year-old San Dieguito Academy student.

She was an 8th-grader at Earl Warren Middle School in Solana Beach when she took the top prize with the correct spelling of "fuliginous."

"Aside from learning that if I care enough about something, I can put in a lot of effort to succeed in it, I learned about the value of community. Being around other kids who also had dedicated a lot of their time to spelling was such a wonderful experience," she said.

Competing in the bee also helped Oona open up and grow.

"Before I competed in the Spelling Bee, I didn't have very good self-esteem, and I was a lot less exuberant. But my months of studying for something I cared deeply about gave me my positive attitude back," she said. ​

Tips for Spelling Bee Competitors in Oona's Words

Bee Studying

  • Have you been studying since your school's spelling bee? START! If your head works like mine does, exposure to as many words as possible is always helpful.
  • Discover what kind of learner you are. Do you remember words best when you read, hear, or write them? Use the strategy that works the best for you.
  • Latin and Greek roots are your friends. Start with the most common roots that you see all the time, and don't underestimate their importance. Maybe delve into the more obscure ones if you're feeling adventurous.
  • The Scripps National Spelling Bee​ wants you to succeed! They compile lists of commonly occurring words. Study these!
  • Get in touch with previous winners! They are usually willing to help and can give specific advice.
  • Basically, you gotta commit. All the words are there, waiting for you to learn them!

 Bee Present

  • Appreciate your fellow spellers! I've made a lot of friends at spelling bees I've been to over the years. You and your competitors have a lot in common, and it doesn't hurt to talk to them!
  • Take a page from my book and relax, at least a little bit. You don't have to be ecstatic and completely free of jitters, but stressing won't get you anything but a shaky voice. Whatever it takes to calm you down - lucky coins, little mantras, getting hyped up.
  • Don't be afraid to ask for additional information. Process it, and ask again if you need to.
  • If you miss a word it isn't the end of the world. No one is mocking you for it - every mistake is an honest mistake. Don't let it discourage you if you want to go back the following year. Use it as motivation to succeed!