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THE SWEET SPELL OF SUCCESS

Yeah, spelling. It's not exactly exciting.

This is the second year that I'm going to The Buffalo News Spelling Bee finals, and I still don't particularly like spelling. There are long sequences of letters to memorize, and I never feel like studying. The flip side is that it's a good talent to have, but it takes a lot of work to get this far in this spelling bee.

First we had a spelling bee at my school, Mount St. Joseph Academy, where I had to challenge sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders. To get even that far, though, we had to take a written test. The top few students from each class get to participate in the orals. Well, it turned out that I won the spelling bee at my school. The next week, my language teacher presented me with an envelope from The Buffalo News. He told me it was a written test to determine the finalists. At first I wasn't too enthusiastic, realizing all the studying that being a finalist would encompass. I decided, though, to give it a valiant effort.

I sat down with the test, which had more than 30 sentences with misspelled words in them. My job was to find the misspelled words and spell them correctly. I worked on the test for about an hour and a half, finding over 90 words that I thought were spelled incorrectly. "This must be too many. I'll never make it," I thought.

A few days later I found a letter addressed to me from The Buffalo News. I opened it and found out that I was a finalist. I wondered how I made it, but I was happy.

That's also what happened last year when I made it to the finals. At last year's finals, a group of 20 nervous kids from around Western New York (including me) were paraded up on stage. We then had to spell these long words, some of which I'd never heard before in my life and probably will never hear again. I placed fifth, and I was content.

This year, I'd like to win. I'd be proud and I'd get to go to the national finals in Washington, D.C. Have your heard some of the insane words those kids have to spell? I mean, we're talking in excess of 20 letters on some of them.

Winning the Western New York finals, though, is an accomplishment in itself. This year, they'll be held Sunday in the Buffalo and Erie County Historical Society Museum. Winning requires a lot of studying, a lot of talent and a little luck. I'll put my time in and see what happens. At least I'll know that I've gotten that far.

Elizabeth Mietlicki is an eighth-grader at Mount St. Joseph's Academy.

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