hey give up recess and free time during school to study.

At least one student uses a computer program daily to play spelling games and practice.

The annual Johnson County Spelling Bee is Tuesday, and 21 of the county’s top spellers in Grades 3 through 5 are preparing to spell words such as “rudimentary” and “scrupulous” at Creekside Elementary School in Franklin.

The students won a spelling bee at their home schools or won the home-school spelling bee.

A trophy and a chance to move on to the next level awaits the champion.

The secret to becoming a champion is to study, study, study, students said.

Most have studied for weeks, and most study at least a little bit daily.

Samuel Griffith, a fifth-grader at Sugar Grove Elementary School, placed third at his school spelling bee last year.

He didn’t study very long, he said, and that is the reason he didn’t earn the top spot.

“You have to prepare as much as you can commit to it,” Samuel said. “Last time, I didn’t prepare that well.”

Clara Sorenson, a fourth-grader at Break-O-Day Elementary School, takes her practice words with her to school. When she finishes a school assignment early, she studies the words.

Other students study at recess, during free time at school and on lunch breaks.

Maya Alvey, a third-grader at Webb Elementary School, said she studies the harder words first. Her strategy is to learn those and not waste time on words that she sees in class or that she already knows.

“If I study the words I know, I won’t learn new words,” Maya said.

Hayden Stamper, a home-schooled student from Whiteland, said he uses the Internet site spellingcity.com to help prepare.

All the studying in the world won’t help if the student gets nervous and misses a word.

Spellers should have a plan for how they will spell the word at the county spelling bee, said Linda Greenwell, an organizer of the bee. She suggested they visualize the word, relax and spell slowly.

That’s the strategy Morgan Bailey, a fifth-grader at Northeast Elementary School, plans to use for the words given to her.

“I see it in my mind. If it doesn’t sound right, I start over,” Morgan said.

Greenwell said that, if students are confused, they should ask for the definition or that the word be used in a sentence.

A.J. Denney, a fifth-grader at Indian Creek Intermediate School, said she plans to ask for the definitions and sentences before she spells the words.

“If it has a suffix, it can be easily misspelled,” she said.

On stage, students won’t have a computer spell-check program to help them, and most realize that spelling is a skill they need.

“I am just practicing (the words) over and over and hoping for the best,” said Marisa Linville, a fifth-grader at Westwood Elementary School. “You are not always going to have spell-check with you.”

If you go

What: Johnson County Spelling Bee

When: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday

Where: Creekside Elementary School, 700 E. State Road 44, just west of the Franklin city line

Admission: Free

Magen Kritsch is an editorial assistant at the Daily Journal. She can be reached at mkritsch@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2770.