Iola student Clara Wicoff and her family will soon be flying to Washington, D.C., for the National Spelling Bee. Wicoff, who just completed the eighth grade, is the champion of the Great Bend Tribune’s 2012 Sunflower Spelling Bee, held March 17 at Barton Community College.
The non-profit bee is administered by the E.W. Scripps Company and known as the nation’s largest and longest-running educational promotion. The preliminary round will be held Tuesday, with 278 spellers from around the world, since it includes U.S. territories and Department of Defense Dependents Schools.
According to the official bee website, “Bee Week 2012 marks the first visit to the nation’s capital for 93 spellers.” That isn’t the case for our champion, Miss Wicoff, who has made this trip twice before. Now that she has completed the eighth grade, this is the last year she will be eligible for the national bee.
There’s no such thing as a natural born speller, but some learners pick up the skill easier than others. Being a “good speller” might get a student to the regional bee, but qualifying for the national bee is hard work. Miss Wicoff appears to have the same kind of mental determination that an outstanding athlete has toward sports. She has made use of study guides; she continues to learn new words and falls asleep each night at her home with words such as “champion” spelled out above her head.
The Great Bend Tribune is proud to sponsor the Sunflower Spelling Bee and send Kansas champion Clara Wicoff, “contestant 91,” to the Scripps National Bee.