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Students arm for war of wordsBy Brenda Bernet
It's a battle of words.
The annual regional spelling bee begins at 1:30 p.m. Saturday in the Branding Iron Theatre at West Texas A & M University in Canyon. The winner will represent the Amarillo area in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
Twenty-nine students from the Amarillo-area are eligible to participate in the regional contest. Contestants are in the fifth through eighth grades. At least six spellers are competing for a second time in the regional bee.
Jake Willimon, a seventh-grader from Spearman Middle School, described his first experience at the regional contest last year as exciting and challenging.
"I just like the way it feels to be up there," the 13-year-old said.
Willimon discovered his knack for spelling in fourth grade, when he placed second in a University Interscholastic League contest.
Anjali Raghuram, an eighth-grader from James Bonham Middle School, tries to imagine the words in her mind on the stage.
"I'm very nervous," Raghuram, 12, said. "I hope for the best."
This is her second appearance in a regional spelling bee. The first time, she won and went to the national bee.
"There were a lot of tough competitors," she said of the regional bee.
Each year, the spelling bee begins with contests at elementary and middle school campuses. Winners of campus spelling bees go to county spelling bees.
Winners of the county spelling bees qualify for the regional spelling bee.
Brittany Lowry, an eighth-grader at Canyon Junior High School, enjoys learning the vocabulary and using root words as clues for spelling.
"I study a lot," Lowry, 14, said. "Every time I see a word, I write it down over and over again until I've got it."
The winner of the regional bee will have a memorable experience at the national spelling bee, said Susie Self, special projects coordinator for the Amarillo Globe-News who is overseeing the regional contest.
National bee contestants stay at the Grand Hyatt Hotel and receive T-shirts. Activities that coincide with the bee include pizza parties and a banquet following the contest.
"These kids take it seriously," Self said. "It's amazing how hard these kids study."
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