Each night since 13-year-old Kaitlin Hall won the Regional Finals Spelling Bee, earning a ticket to the 86th National Scripps Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., she and her father have had the same bedtime routine.
Kaitlin, a seventh-grader at Avon Middle School, gets ready for bed and then her father would come to tuck her in and the two of them would spend nearly an hour spelling and defining words like rife, alacrity, specimen and somnolent.
“I studied the vocabulary as well as the spelling on all the words they gave me,” Kaitlin said. “A lot of words I have seen before, but did not know the definitions, so I am definitely learning a lot. Sometimes even when I’m just speaking, I use some of the words.”
Kaitlin will join 280 other spellers from the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe; as well as the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.
Kaitlin will travel to the nation’s capital with her parents, Kathy and Matt. They are leaving Sunday. Matt and Kaitlin are staying through Saturday while Kathy Hall said she can only stay for a few days to prep her daughter for the competition that starts Tuesday.
“But really I have to give so much credit to my husband. He has been helpful to her,” Kathy Hall said.
According to the spelling bee’s official website, this year’s spellers are as young as 8 and as old as 14. Two spellers have seen their siblings win it all.
But knowing all of that doesn’t seem to faze Kaitlin, who loves reading, writing and spelling — basically anything related to language arts.
“I don’t know. I’m too nervous as it is,” she said. “I think I will be more excited to go.”
Kathy Hall is keeping things in perspective for her daughter while also encouraging her to do her best. She told her to look at the spelling bee as a little early SAT prep work.
“We’re telling her to enjoy it and do her best,” he said. “You know, to look at it as a great experience, but not to have too high expectations because of the competition.”
Kaitlin has already won some serious bragging rights in her home. She bested her older brother, Ryan, now a high school freshman, who came in eighth in last year’s regional finals.
Contact Lisa Roberson at 329-7121 or firstname.lastname@example.org.