YORKVILLE – It's been one heck of a first-time trip to Washington, D.C. for Yorkville Middle School student Tessa Snicker.
Tessa, 12, of Bristol competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Tuesday, May 28 and Wednesday, May 29 in Oxon Hill, Maryland. She said the experience has been nerve-wracking and a lot of preparation went into qualifying for the national competition, including countless hours of studying with the help of her mom Tracy, her twin brother Caleb and her friends.
“There are a lot of cameras and all of these people watching you – it’s really scary," Tessa said. "But it’s also really cool because it’s the national spelling bee.”
Tessa said she didn't expect to win the local competition in February hosted by Kendall/Grundy Regional Office of Education, which she did with the word "palette," as in the thin board or slab that an artist mixes colors on. She said she even remembered saying during the car ride to the local competition that she didn't know why she was even participating in the competition, since she was convinced she wasn't going to win anyway.
“And I was really surprised and really happy," Tessa said.
Along with encouragement and support from Tessa's teachers, Tracy Snicker said, she also attributes her daughter's spelling success and her general knowledge and understanding of words to her love for reading books.
"She's always got a book in her hand," Tracy Snicker said.
Tessa made it through the first round's preliminary spelling test and spelled "redingote," a woman's long coat open in the front or a man's double-breasted topcoat with a full skirt, correctly in the second round of the competition. She said she was bummed she was out of the competition in the third round when she did not spell "deleteriously," or a matter in which something has a harmful or damaging affect, correctly.
Despite the outcome, Tracy Snicker said, she's super proud of Tessa and is in awe of the person Tessa is becoming.
“As far as I'm concerned, she won," Tracy Snicker siad. "She’s still champion, even though she didn’t get as far as she’d like.”
Lisa Adler, principal of Yorkville Middle School, said she knows Tessa has put in so much work outside of the school day in preparing for the challenging competition. She said she and other middle school staff are proud of her representing not only the school but the greater Kendall County and Grundy County area.
“For Tessa to go above and beyond to improve her own skills and vocabulary and liguistics … it is going to have a positive impact for her well beyond her trip to [Washington] D.C.,” Adler said.
Tessa said she's glad she got to be part of the tradition of all of these students competing in the national spelling bee. She said she wouldn't trade in the experience for anything.
"It’s just something that cannot be replaced," Tessa said.