Little did I know that I would ever make it to the national level in spelling when I stood as a nine-year-old in my school cafeteria for my first ever spelling bee. Misspelling “expertise” as “expertice” seemed like a meager start to my spelling bee career.
Three years later, however, my “expertise” in spelling carried me to my goal of the year: making it to the sublime Scripps National Spelling Bee. I was a seventh-grader at that time. And for sure, that week was the best week of my life at that point as I got to gain so many experiences, compete in a lovely ballroom, tour D.C., wander around the glorious Gaylord Hotel, meet Dr. Bailly as well as plenty of other people I have always wanted to meet, learn several new words, and most importantly, forge friendships with people who had the same passion as me. I was so inspired by my own experience that I was determined to make it back again next year, my final year of eligibility.
So I worked as hard as I could that year, reading the dictionary every day. It truly was an experience I will never forget.
Within a couple of months, I found myself standing on the stage in the Maryland Ballroom once more, facing Dr. Bailly for my word as myriads of cameras and lights pointed at me. It was about 9:30 PM on May 31, 2012. Here I was, one of two remaining spellers in the climax of the highly awaited 85th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. Finally, I bowed down to the word “schwarmerei”. I think runner-up is the toughest spot to get because you know you were so close. Getting the final ding of the spelling bee, rather than the final word, was quite overwhelming at the moment. But I realized that headlines will come and go, and achievements and rank will be forgotten as we go about our lives. What really matters is what I got out of my spelling bee journey: a vast amount of knowledge, plenty of character-building experiences, life-lasting memories, and most importantly, life-long friends.
Now that I cannot participate in spelling bees anymore, I am missing it dearly. I loved the way languages were connected, I loved the way roots formed words, I loved the history of words, and I loved learning how many ideas a mere alphabet could represent. Not only have I learned about words, roots, and vocabulary from my journey, but also several important life lessons, such as hard work, setting goals, thinking before speaking, staying calm under pressure, and accepting all situations, whether successful or otherwise.
On a final note, I would like to thank Holy Trinity for all that it has done for me. Thank you to all of administration, my teachers, and my friends for supporting me all the way. I wouldn’t be where I am today without your encouragement.
I would also like to congratulate all the spellers who will be participating in the school-wide bee. You all have done a great job and I promise that whatever you get out of your spelling experience will help you later on in life. Good luck to all, and remember, you all are winners!
— Stuti Mishra ’16
Holy Trinity Episcopal Academy