Svetlana Dee couldn’t “emphasize” enough the importance of reading when it comes to being a good speller.
The Whittell seventh-grader outspelled six other students Thursday to move on to the state spelling bee in Las Vegas in March.
“I was nervous, but I knew all the words I got, she said. “I was in the moment. Reading is how I learned vocabulary.”
In rounds one and two, the spellers breezed through words like “selfish,” “deaf,” “ivory” and “pouch.”
In the third round, Pau-Wa-Lu student Patrick Voss stumbled on “scarecrow,” but caught himself and was able to stay in the competition.
The word “bebop” stumped Shane Trivitt in the next round cutting the field down to five.
Last year’s sixth-grade district champion, Maya Wolery went out in the sixth round with the word “disappoint,” as did Carson Valley Middle School student Emily Kimpel with “puree.”
Svetlana was actually knocked out in the eighth round, but was able to come back in when last speller standing, Nick Miller misspelled “ulterior.”
The two battled back and forth for two rounds until Svetlana emerged victorious with the championship word “emphasize.”
The eighth-grade spelling bee lost its first two spellers in rounds two and three with words “premium” and “introverted.”
The competition narrowed to four spellers by round seven where the controversial pronunciation of the word “mugwump” caused it to be replaced with “vouch.”
The spellers made quick work of the next three rounds which included the words “talisman,” “bulwark””shiatsu.”
Round 11 lost Carson Valley Middle School student Ian Ozolins with the Hawaiian word “lani.” Pau-Wa-Lu students Devin Gilbert and Andrew Voss also went out on the words “pontiff” and “nigh.”
Simon Arzadon, 14, spelled his way to victory with the word “betrothal” and the championship word “grouse.”
“I’m surprised. I didn’t think I was going to win,” the Carson Valley Middle School eighth-grader said. “The words were easier than I thought, but I had to think about some of them. A lot of the words were on our practice list, so ‘grouse’ was already in my head.”
This is Simon’s first year competing in the district spelling bee.
“I told my mom not to come so I didn’t have the extra pressure,” he said. “She’s going to be excited when I tell her.”