Spellbound: Arizona center schoolers compete in nationwide spelling bee

Opal Mishra stood below the stage lights on the 2023 Scripps Nationwide
Spelling Bee Tuesday, ready to listen to the phrase that might mark the tip
of months of exhausting work and preparation or let her advance to the subsequent

A second of silence fell over the ballroom earlier than it was damaged by
the announcer giving the sixth grader her phrase – hyssop, a European

In contrast to the primary three spellers of the day, Opal didn’t ask for the
phrase origin or the definition. She took a deep breath and confidently
spelled “h-y-s-s-o-p,” sparking an eruption of applause as the primary to
appropriately spell a phrase within the ninety fifth annual bee.

“I simply strive to not really feel nervous,” the Basha Accelerated Center College
sixth grader stated after Tuesday’s first spherical. “I don’t actually really feel

Opal, 12, was the youngest of the three Arizona center schoolers who have been among the many 229 younger spellers from across the U.S. and a handful of overseas nations competing on the bee.

Along with their acquainted flip in entrance of the microphone, when
often-nervous contestants must spell out a phrase, opponents within the
second spherical got one other phrase and had to decide on the right
definition from amongst three decisions.

Earlier than they got here to Washington, the spellers additionally needed to take a
written check that allowed bee organizers to gauge the extent of
problem of phrases for use within the competitors.

However some phrases have been clearly more durable than others, as Tazbah Spruhan
from Tséhootsooí Center College in Window Rock realized when she was given
the phrase “Groenendael” to spell within the first spherical.

“On stage it’s very nerve-wracking as a result of I heard the phrases different
individuals have been getting and I believed, ‘Possibly I obtained this,’” stated Tazbah, 13,
an eighth grader. “However then I obtained a extremely exhausting phrase in order that was a
little disappointing.”

Tazbah took the precautionary steps of most spellers, asking for the
definition and the foundation of Groenendael – a breed of Belgian sheepdog.
Finally, it didn’t assist, as she spelled the phrase “Grunendoll” and
heard the dreaded bell indicating a misspelling.

She was clearly upset after her loss, however recovered shortly and
returned Tuesday afternoon to cheer on her fellow Arizona spellers in spherical three.

Opal and Arizona’s third competitor, Karen Baaba Opoku-Appoh, each
survived the primary three rounds Tuesday and can compete Wednesday
morning within the quarterfinals. That spherical is adopted by the semifinals
Wednesday night time and that nationwide finals on Thursday.

Organizers stated that is the primary time in a number of years that two Arizona spellers have superior to the quarterfinals.

Tuesday was not the primary time Opal and Karen have confronted off in opposition to
each other – each spellers certified for the nationwide bee after
competing within the Arizona Academic Basis’s Arizona Spelling Bee
in March.

Karen, 14, stated she competed in her first bee in fourth grade. Now an
eighth-grade scholar at Marana Center College, she stated she prepares
earlier than each bee by learning as many phrases and definitions as she will
from Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, a tactic that gained her first place
over the 26 different spellers within the Arizona Spelling Bee.

“Be sure you be taught the foundation phrases as a result of they’re actually useful
after which be sure you know all of the origins of the phrases and you probably have
good memorization expertise, positively be sure you memorize loads of
the phrases,” she stated.

Karen superior to the semifinals by appropriately spelling “wapiti” and
“cyclical” and at the moment defining “immolate” by way of the primary three
rounds. She stated she spent her time between rounds learning the

“I used the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary after which I additionally used the
official phrase app, known as Phrase Membership, after which I used one other web site
known as HighScope, so yeah these have been my major research sources,” she stated.

Tazbah, who ready for the bee by learning varied language
spelling patterns, stated she was disillusioned to get “a extremely exhausting phrase”
within the first spherical. However the Navajo teen – the one Native American in
this yr’s competitors, based on organizers -was nonetheless proud to be
representing her Native American tradition on the nationwide stage.

“I’m very proud to be representing my individuals as a result of we don’t have a
lot of illustration, or good illustration, so I simply really feel proud to
be right here and to be Native right here,” Tazbah stated.