Aiken County students fight to compete in National Spelling Bee

Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2020
News 12 at 6 o'clock

12 students from Aiken County elementary and middle schools with compete for the chance to head to Washington D.C. for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. (Source: Rena Humes)

AIKEN COUNTY, SC (WRDW/WAGT) -- It's the kind of contest that would humble a lot of adults, but 12 students from Aiken County elementary and middle schools will compete for a chance to go to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.

Each of these 12 kids won their school's spelling competition, and got either first or second place in the group competition. On Feb. 6, they'll compete in the district-wide Bee. The winner will move on to Nationals.

For students who hope to make it to that national stage, spelling is everything.

They prepare by having their family call out words from a Scripps practice list. Others say they read lots of books.

Rena Humes made it to the Scripps National Spelling Bee last year. She says hearing the dreaded "ding" of the desk bell is something she'll never forget.

"It was a disappointment to everybody. And to myself," she said.

She was eliminated on the word "philia." Humes says she'll never forget how to spell that word again. This year, she's hoping to advance even farther in the National competition.

Jayden Avancena hopes it will be his turn on the national stage this year. But, because he has a british accent, he's been practicing his pronunciations in addition to his spelling.

"In the back of mind, I'm afraid that they might mishear it and that I might get taken out, and I don't want that to happen," said Avancena.

Several of the kids have special techniques to help them spell on stage. Humes says she writes out the word on her leg using her finger.

"The way I kind of remember words is I'm pretending that I'm typing them on a keyboard," said Avancena.

But with each unique approach comes a common understanding. One wrong letter, and it's all over.

For a list of this year's Aiken County contestants, click here.

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