Can you spell “fun”?

Pro­vin­cial Spell­ing Champ from Rod­dick­ton made fun her goal at Scrips Na­tional Bee


New­found­land and Labrador Spell­ing Champ, Mat­tie Cull, 13, of Rod­dick­ton, had the per­fect at­ti­tude about be­ing part of the Scrips Na­tional Spell­ing Bee in Washington, D.C. re­cently.

“You feel spe­cial just for be­ing there,” Mat­tie said. “You have been se­lected out of so many peo­ple and that’s such an ac­com­plish­ment that you al­ready feel like a win­ner.”

Mat­tie, who won the pro­vin­cial Tele­gram Spell­ing Bee in Fe­bru­ary, com­peted with over 500 other spell­ers and made it to round 3 be­fore she was elim­i­nated from the Washington com­pe­ti­tion This was her sec­ond time at the Scrips event and she found this trip much less stress­ful be­cause of her pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence.

“I didn’t have to worry so much this time be­cause I knew what to do,” Mat­tie said. “I didn’t have to stress so much over the pre­lim­i­nar­ies be­cause I knew what it was all about, what to ex­pect.”

In or­der to pre­pare for the event, Mat­tie prac­ticed ev­ery sin­gle day.

“I would prac­tice for two hours learn­ing words that were pro­vided and I would flick through the dic­tio­nary look­ing for words and def­i­ni­tions and al­ter­nate spellings,” Mat­tie said. “And I would go on the web­site and do the words there. Mom would read them out and I would spell them to her.”

Fun at­mos­phere Given that the event is a com­pe­ti­tion, most would ex­pect ten­sion to be run­ning high, but Mat­tie says the at­mos­phere is fun and re­laxed.

“Ev­ery­one is very friendly, they think ‘Let’s make some friends,’” she said. “We all know that with that many com­peti­tors, chances are you aren’t go­ing to be the win­ner. You don’t want to stress your­self out.”

Event or­ga­niz­ers do their best to make the trip to the Bee a mem­o­rable event for the spell­ers.

“The Bee just has so much to of­fer,” Mat­tie said. “It’s held in a great ho­tel with a pool, you get a free trip to Washington, you see dif­fer­ent things and try dif­fer­ent foods and restau­rants.”

The Scrips Bee makes an ex­tra ef­fort to en­sure the spell­ers get to know each other and make friends. They re­quire each com­peti­tor to sub­mit a short bi­o­graph­i­cal state­ment and a photo be­fore­hand and they use it to cre­ate an ice­break­ing game for the kids.

“When you get there, they give you this book called ‘The Bee Keeper’ that has ev­ery­one’s in­for­ma­tion and picture in it,” she said. “But they leave one word blank in each de­scrip­tion. You have to find the per­son and ask them to fill in the miss­ing word. It’s re­ally fun.”

Con­tin­u­ing the tra­di­tion

While Mat­tie has reached the age limit for the Scrips Bee, which only ac­cepts spell­ers that have not finished eighth grade, she’s got high hopes for one of her fam­ily mem­bers.

“This was my last year, but I hope that my brother Liam gets to go in the fu­ture,” Cull said. “He was cowin­ner of the Cloud River Academy Spell­ing Bee this year so I hope he keeps go­ing.”


Mat­tie Cull at the Scrips Na­tional Spell­ing Bee in Washington, D.C.


NL Cham­pion Speller, Mat­tie Cull, 13, in Washington for the Scrips Na­tional Spell­ing Bee.

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