Lee County champ headed to national spelling bee
By Monique Harrison
Thirteen-year-old Nora Brown had planned to spend this weekend attending a party or two celebrating the end of the school year.
But instead, the Guntown School eighth-grader spent Friday and Saturday night with her nose stuck in the dictionary.
“There’s not a word list for this one,” said the Saltillo resident, who will be competing Wednesday in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. “So, I guess the best thing to do is to study the dictionary. And it’s 4 1/2 inches thick. It’s a little hard.”
The road to the prestigious national competition has been a long one. Brown won her school and countywide spelling competitions earlier this school year. In February, she out-spelled about 50 students from four states to win the Mid-South Spelling Bee in Memphis. She won by correctly spelling the word “hypothesis” after her last remaining opponent misspelled “stereotomist.”
Brown, who has never been to the nation’s capital, is set to leave today. She’ll spend Monday and Tuesday touring with other spelling bee participants.
“I’ve never been to Washington, so I’m pretty excited about this trip in general,” Brown said. “This is the big trip – the trip people are always talking about making. I think it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
The daughter of Ken and Kathy Brown said she’s concerned that she hasn’t spent enough time studying for the intensive competition.
“I should have studied a little more,” she said, giggling. “But I’m going to work hard the next two days. I’ve been studying about two hours most days.”
Brown said reading has served as her ticket to the national event.
“I read a lot, and you learn a lot of new words that way,” she said. “That’s the best way to become a good speller, I think.”
Despite her affinity for spelling, Brown said she never expected to find herself competing at the national level.
“This has all been a surprise to me – nothing I’ve expected,” she said. “There hasn’t been a lot of pressure. People are always telling me they hope I do well, but that they are proud of me, regardless of how well I do there. It’s nice to see so many people who really care about how I do. It makes me proud.”