Sophia Grierson heading to Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington

May 22, 2019

Dedication, determination and work ethic are all words that can describe Ludington Area Catholic eighth-grader Sophia Grierson.

Sophia will be making her second trip in as many years to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. She correctly spelled “Excelsior” to win the Ludington Daily News Community Spelling Bee back on Feb. 19.

Sophia said is exciting about returning to the national spelling be. She plans to focus more on the competition then sightseeing around the city.

“Since it is my last chance, my last shot, I want to give it everything that I have,” said Sophia, who spent much of her free time last year back at her hotel room studying.

One of the things she took away from last year’s competition is all the different ways to prepare.

“The work that all of those kids put in was a lot more than I had done,” she said.

That knowledge allowed her to gauge the work that she needed to put into studying for this year’s competition. Grierson, who was determined to return to the national spelling bee this year, made a few sacrifices in her life to have a better shot to return to Washington, D.C.

Sophia, with the help of her parents, began working with Hexco, which is an online spelling program that specialize in personal spelling. She would receive a list of words on flashcards every week and Skype with a spelling coach every Tuesday.

She focused on the words and kept track of the amount of time she studied. She said she put in nearly 1,000 hours of study time from last July to the present.

Sophia has gotten up early before school to study. She also passed on playing soccer this spring to allow for more time for getting to know her dictionary.

“She has put in a lot of time,” said Sophia’s mom, Kathy. “We are proud of her for having a goal and being so dedicated and really sticking to it. She has been getting up at 4:30 in the morning, most days, to study before school and then studying after school and on weekends.”

Kathy said Sophia has made so many sacrifices of activities that she would normally do in the spring, like playing soccer.

“She is doing this because she really wanted to give it her all,” Kathy said. “She is really trying to make her community and school proud.”

Sophia said she usually studies in her room, but sometimes she walks on the family treadmill.

“I can just focus better.”

Washington, D.C.

Sophia and her family are heading to Washington D.C. for the 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee on Saturday, and will attend the Barque on Sunday. The competition begins on Monday with the preliminary multiple-choice test.

Sophia said the preliminary test is the one that makes her the most nervous, but since being there last year she knows what to expect.

“The test, it is all over the place. There are some really easy words that you automatically know and some really difficult ones,” she sad. “The test is all multiple choice. Twelve spelling questions worth one point each, 12 vocabulary questions worth one point each and then two additional vocabulary questions worth three points each.”

Sophia is looking forward to meeting new people and seeing the spellers who are coming back to compete at this year’s bee.

“(I’m) looking forward to experiencing everything again,” she said. “The whole environment is a lot of fun.”

Following the competition

“Most people think that spelling words are just for spelling bees and they will never use them in real life,” Sophia said. “I have seen so many words that I have studied pop up in the most random places. I feel like all of this work will pay off for the SAT and future testing. Having a basis of vocabulary in how language works and words come into formation.”

Sophia said she would love to be a spelling tutor, helping others study and prepare for their bees.

She is looking forward to having some free time before preparing for high school.

“It will be weird to have free time; it has been a while.”

Sophia is speller number 313. There are 565 spellers who are participating in the bee. She is one of 162 returning spellers and is part of the grade level with the highest percentage of spellers at 38 percent.

Sophia will take the stage on Tuesday to spell during Round 2 of the competition. The Ludington Daily News will have updates of her progress through the competition.

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