Kids Get Nervous At The Regional Spelling Bee

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, March 8, 2007

Returning champion 11 year old Josephine Kao of Roseville won again this year.  She competed against 65 other spellers from the Sacramento region.  The winning word – irreptitious:


 I-R-R-E-P-T-I-T-I-O-U-S.  Congratulations, Josephine…applause….
The word means “resulting from the act of entering by stealth or inadvertence.”
Josephine was feeling pretty good after her win:
I love doing competitions, and the sportsmanship, and also just learning new words, because I love learning new words and everything about spelling bees.
But for Josephine it wasn’t all fun.  The competition was nervewracking:
You start shaking and your heart pounds really fast.
Her fellow competitors weren’t immune to nerves either. The youngest, Anthony Clavelli of Woodland, was only 9 years old:
Sometimes I get hyper and I feel like I’m going to throw up.
And twelve year old Hamilton Ta of Antelope was feeling a little sick himself:
Like my stomach’s going to do back flips or something.
Marya Endriga, associate professor of clinical psychology at Sacramento State, says studies have shown that competition isn’t always good for children, especially those under the age of ten.
Younger kids can learn best under situations of cooperation and play.
But fifth grade teacher Rob McClurg, who was at the spelling bee, says it prepares kids for real life:
These kids are getting some very intense experiences early on. They have parents here, they have classmates here, so if things don’t go as well as they hoped, they’re not falling, they’re going to be caught. And they’re going to have all their friends and family telling them it was great.
As for Josephine, she’ll represent the Sacramento region at the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. at the end of May.  She says between now and then she’ll be studying vocabulary and getting nervous.