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MO Word Wizards Practice their Magic for National Competition

June 8, 2009

Richmond Heights, Mo. – Some call themselves "word nerds," while others prefer the term "wordsmith." Either way, they're gearing up for the 2009 AARP National Spelling Bee later this month. At least 50 early birds from all over the country have already signed up.

Joe and Carolyn Dickmann from Richmond Heights, Missouri, will both be competing. Joe says he's gathered study lists, some of which he received when helping his kids in spelling bees when they were younger, and he peruses the dictionary every night.

"It's so hit-and-miss. You could study 10,000 words and none of those would be in the bee; and then, the one after where you stopped could be the one you get."

To prepare for the annual competition, some folks enlist the help of friends and family to try to stump them. Some contestants say they read the dictionary, cover to cover - any word in the Merriam-Webster 11th Collegiate Edition is fair game. However, just knowing the English language is not enough, cautions Carolyn Dickmann, because all kinds of foreign words pop up.

"The ones that really bug me are the Gaelic ones, because they don't sound like anything like they look."

The bee will be held in Cheyenne, Wyoming, on June 20. It's open to everyone age 50 and older, with the exception of prevous winners. Learn more online, at, or by calling the AARP Wyoming office, at (866) 663-3290.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MO