Archive for Wednesday, February 19, 2003

Can you spell winner?

BJHS student wins county spelling bee for second time

February 19, 2003

Marianne Sansom said her spelling ability doesn't come naturally, that she has to study.

Considering the Baldwin Junior High School sixth grader won the Douglas County Spelling Bee for the second straight year on Feb. 8, her studying skills must be good.

"I just memorize words really well," she said.

Sansom, who has been the in county spelling bee every year since the third grade, memorizes a lot from a book containing about 27,000 words.

"I like to study off that," she said.

She also studies by writing out the pronunciations and definitions of the words she learns to spell.

But she doesn't do it alone. She said she gets a lot of help studying from her family.

"Usually my mom helps me a lot," she said. "She really helps me a lot."

This year turned out to be more of a family effort than ever. Sansom's younger sister Mallory, a Vinland Elementary School fifth grader, also competed at the county spelling bee.

Sansom said she and Mallory couldn't study together, so family members had to help them separately.

"It was kind of confusing," she said of when they would try to study together. "It didn't work and one of us would have to go upstairs and study and one of us would have to stay downstairs."

Even though Sansom had been studying since right after winter break, there was one final cram session that lasted until 2 a.m. the night before the county competition.

But she said having won the county bee the year before helped.

"It seems like if you win one, then you have a feeling you can win more than one because you have the experience," she said.

But that doesn't mean she still wasn't just a little nervous.

"I'm nervous when I go up there," she said. "But when I'm spelling a word, I'm not nervous at all. I just think about spelling the word."

Sansom out spelled 27 other competitors, including her sister Mallory, to take the county spelling title.

"She did do pretty well," she said of her sister's first bee appearance.

Kathy Johansen, BJHS sixth-grade language arts teacher, said Sansom should be proud of her accomplishments.

In Johansen's 22 years of teaching, she said this is the first student she has had win the county spelling bee.

"It's just such an honor for her," she said. "She's a very dedicated student."

Sansom will compete at the state spelling bee on April 5 at Washburn University in Topeka.

But she's no rookie at the state level either. Last year, Sansom placed 10th out of 101 competitors.

"I hope to do a lot better this year," she said, "but if I don't, I'll just be glad I got to State again."

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