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Yuma spelling champ headed for state bee
Most days after school, you will find Victoria Pena, 14, practicing for the statewide spelling bee where she will face off against students from around Arizona.
Pena, an eighth-grade student from Crane Middle School, will be competing at the AEF (Arizona Educational Foundation) Arizona Spelling Bee that will be held Saturday in Phoenix.
She will join 26 students, ranging in age from 9 to 14, in vying for the spot of top speller in the state. The winner will win a trip for two to Washington, D.C., to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.
Other prizes for winning the state bee include $800 cash, Webster's Third New International Dictionary and a Rosetta Stone language course compliments of Harrison Middleton University.
After winning the 2013 Yuma County Spelling Bee this year, taking third place in 2012, and also competing in spelling bees for the past four years, Pena said that she feels she is prepared for the competition.
“I'm really excited, I'm definitely nervous, but I think I can do well.”
To help prepare, she recently signed up for a program through Merriam-Webster where the computer will read her words along with the language of origin and alternate pronunciations.
“It's really great,” Pena commented.
During her word studies, she said those from the German origin in particular are tricky for her. Pena said she's been working to learn rules of various languages of origin so she can get a better idea for how words may be spelled.
In addition to her parents, past and current teachers as well as friends are planning to attend the competition.
“It feels great to know that they're going be there, it's just good to know,” she said.
In regards to her nerves, she said she tries not to think about the fact that there will be so many people there and it helps to alleviate some of her pressure.
In addition to gearing up for the state spelling bee, Pena recently was a part of the first-place team from Crane to win the Yuma County MathCounts competition. She is also the school president of the Gowan Achievement Program, which is for Crane Elementary School District students who have exceeded all the standards on the AIMS (Arizona Instrument to Measure Standards) exam.
Among the state competition this year are four contestants returning to the state's spelling bee stage for a second time.
“We're proud to administer the annual state spelling bee again this year and showcase the impressive academic talent we have throughout Arizona,” said AEF executive director Bobbie O'Boyle. “We have some remarkable achievers in Arizona's classrooms whose accomplishments should be recognized.”
The bee, which is open to the public, will begin at 1 p.m. at the Eight/Arizona PBS studio on the sixth floor of the Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication on the ASU downtown Phoenix campus, 555 N. Central Ave.
Visit www.azedfoundation.org for more information on the Arizona Spelling Bee or to learn more about the programs.
Sarah Womer can be reached at email@example.com or 539-6858. Find her on Facebook at Facebook.com/YSSarahWomer or on Twitter at @YSSarahWomer.