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Bee hopeful hits books
D.C. to host national competition in MayBy Nicole King
For 13-year-old James Walker, this could be the year.
The seventh-grader at San Jacinto Christian Academy is preparing to compete in the Association of Christian Schools International National Spelling Bee scheduled for May 10 in Washington, D.C.
James placed second at the ACSI regional spelling bee in Dallas on Feb. 23, competing against 61 spellers from six states.
Last year, he missed the cut for nationals. This year, he's aiming for a top-10 finish.
He admits to getting nervous.
"Once you're getting close to where you're trying to get to, if you mess up a letter, you don't get to advance," James said. "You don't really get over it very easily. You hope you get an easy word. One that you've heard of before."
James also plays basketball and runs track; something he took advantage of to calm down during competition.
"The regional started at eight o'clock in the morning and I woke up early and went to the gym in the hotel and ran on the treadmill," he said.
James' dad, Whit Walker, said his son has always been a fast learner.
"He taught himself to read, and he was reading in kindergarten," Whit said. "He's a very good kid and he does good academically and he does well in sports. He's a very well-rounded person."
Whit Walker said James didn't get his spelling ability from him. He said he did poorly in spelling in school.
James' older sister Bethany competed in a regional competition, but never qualified for the national spelling bee.
"We're very proud," said Marsha Walker, James' mother. "There's still a lot of work to do, though."
James has a study word list for the national competition and has started looking it over. His parents and his grandmother usually help him study.
"There are about 100 pages," he said. "Most of them are pretty hard."
Unfortunately, the judges stop using the published list after about three rounds, James said, and start selecting words out of a dictionary.
He tries to sound words out in his head before he spells them.
"If you get one that sounds pretty easy, you figure there must be a trick to it to make it hard," he said.
And asking for a definition does help.
"If you're thinking that it's one word, if it's two words that sound the same, you can figure out which one it is," James said.
Some of the words James had to spell at regionals:
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