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Can You Spell S-U-C-C-E-S-S?

May 24, 2010

PORTLAND, Ore. - The countdown is on, as wordsmiths sharpen their study skills to compete in the AARP National Spelling Bee in just a few weeks. Dr. Bill Long of Portland is a regular annual contestant, finishing in the top ten in each of the past five years. Even for those who have some natural aptitude for spelling, Long says, being in the spotlight is a whole different experience.

"When you just have 30 seconds in which to respond, it can be a lot more difficult. So, I have been going through and making lists of words, and I probably have, oh, 1200 or 1500 words, something like that."

In 2007, another Oregonian, Susan Hartner of Hillsboro, won the competition. AARP says some contestants spend all year preparing, while others rely on their lifetime of learning and don't do much studying.

Most contestants say they spend a lot of time with their noses in dictionaries, and returning 2009 champ Michael Petrina Jr., from Arlington, Virginia, describes how he created a study guide at the same time.

"I copied down all of the words that I thought I needed to know on index cards. I've been basically reviewing those index cards with some supplemental lists."

Spelling bee words come from the Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition. The competition is June 18-19 at the Little America Hotel and Resort, in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Registration is open until the day of the event, for spellers aged 50 and over. So far, people from 21 states have signed up to compete for more than $1000 in gifts and prizes.

The entry fee is $30 until June 11; walk-in registration is $40. Those who want to compete can register online at
www.aarp.org.

Chris Thomas, Public News Service - OR