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Reading the Dictionary Every Day – Contestants Study for WYO Spelling Bee

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May 21, 2008

Cheyenne, WY – The English language is weird and wonderful. That's the assessment from a woman who is studying to compete in "AARP The Magazine's National Spelling Bee" to be held in Cheyenne on June 14.

Reading a book cover-to-cover doesn't sound like much of an accomplishment - unless it's the dictionary. At least one contestant is making her preparations for the annual event practically a full-time job. Pam Leininger of Durango, Colorado, will be a first-time competitor, and she's taking the challenge seriously: She has studied the dictionary up to eight hours a day for the past year.

"You know, I've always considered myself a really good speller. I didn't realize that I wasn't as good as I thought I was until I started reading the dictionary, and just finding so much there that fascinated me."

Spelling bee sponsor, "AARP The Magazine," is published by the American Association of Retired Persons. Editor Steve Slon says, while many think the spelling bee is an inspiration to keep aging minds sharp, it's actually representative of a lifetime of learning.

"This is not just seniors trying to master a few words to keep from forgetting things. This is the opposite, if anything - showing off the power of the older brain, the wiser brain."

"AARP The Magazine's National Spelling Bee" is open to anyone age 50 and older. More than $1,000 in prizes are up for grabs, and the winner will be flown to New York to appear on national television. Registration is still open, and information is available online, at

Deborah Smith/Steve Powers, Public News Service - WY