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VA Sibling Rivalry Comes to the AARP National Spelling Bee

PHOTO: Prudence Hopkins, Fredericksburg, Va.
PHOTO: Prudence Hopkins, Fredericksburg, Va.
August 7, 2012

CHEYENNE, Wyo. - The word lists are being polished up in preparation for the AARP National Spelling Bee in Cheyenne, Wyoming, Friday and Saturday this week. Spellers from all over the nation already have signed up, and anyone age 50 and older is welcome to compete.

Virginian Prudence Hopkins of Fredericksburg says there's some sibling rivalry going on, as two of her sisters and a brother are also competing this year.

"Our father loved to teach us how to spell, and how to pull words apart by syllable."

Chris Wagner is one of Prudence's sisters. She's traveling from California and predicts that their brother will do the best of the family.

"I'm probably better than the average person, but there's nothing like a good AARP spelling list to shake your confidence."

And there's another family connection. Wagner says a previous winner, Michael Petrina of Virginia, is a cousin. He's returning to the competition this year.

Registration for the Bee Friday and Saturday can be done online at for $40 in advance, or register at the door for $50. Top prize is $1000.

All words for the Bee come from Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary, Eleventh Edition.

Deborah Courson Smith/Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - VA