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Editorial: Spelling champ role model for all of us

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A Greenwood 11-year-old doesn’t need a computer to check her spelling.

But you can bet Nicole Mitchell won’t be relying solely on the computer for directions any time soon, either.

Nicole nearly missed the beginning of the Johnson County Spelling Bee on April 22 because a computer-based map program sent her to the wrong side of Franklin.

But she arrived in time and finished as this year’s spelling champion.

Eighteen spellers competed at the annual Johnson County Spelling Bee at Creekside Elementary School in Franklin. The event is sponsored by the Franklin Community Teachers Association and the Daily Journal. Participants were third-, fourth- or fifth-graders who won school spelling bees to advance to the county event.

The competitors dropped out gradually, missing words such as zaniness and byline to end their shot as spelling champion.

Nicole, a fifth-grader at Northeast Elementary School, and runner-up Lillian Lacy, a student at Westwood Elementary School in Greenwood, got through just one full round in the finals before Lacy missed pessimist. Mitchell spelled the word correctly but stumbled on quiche. Lacy missed quiche, too.

Nicole’s final words were scholarly and titanium. Earlier she spelled words such as legible, callow and honorable.

She said the key to winning was studying. She studied for at least 30 minutes every night before bed for nearly three months. She even studied in the car on the way to the spelling bee.

Spelling is one of her favorite subjects in school, Nicole said, and she wanted to compete in something she could be proud of.

“(Spelling) is a lot easier than subjects like social studies. I just read all the time and learn my words as I read,” Nicole said. “I knew I would feel better about myself (if I did well).”

One of her keys to success is something all of us — students and adults alike — can learn from. Reading is an important part of building a stronger vocabulary. By learning words in context, their meanings are clearer and more likely to take root in our brains.

Nicole, the daughter of Mark and Roena Mitchell, now will go on to the regional spelling bee with a hope of making it to the national competition. But win or lose, she and the other competitors already are winners.

We salute all of the participants in this year’s spelling bee. The spelling skills you have mastered will last you a lifetime.

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