Words like avifauna, iatrogenic and kookaburra did not stop Lindsey Roberts, an eighth-grade student at W.E. Greiner Exploratory Arts Academy, from being selected to represent her school at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
One of two D-FW students who scored highest at the 64th Annual Dallas Regional Spelling Bee, Lindsey will be the only contestant representing Dallas ISD in the nationwide spelling championship.
“She’s bright and really good at writing, and really shines with her work and performance in my class,” said Jesus Rodriguez, who teaches eighth grade Reading Language Arts (RLA) at Greiner. “She’s very communicative and vocal and a very active reader, and even helps me spell words sometimes. Those are building blocks to develop good vocabulary skills and excel in English class, and it’s really no surprise to me that she’s able to come this far.”
Acting, video games, theater tech and hard rock are among Lindsey’s main interests, but none surpass her love for reading. From politics and poetry to etymology and young adult fiction, no subject is too broad for her curiosity. She’s been an avid reader for as long as her memory serves and recalls earning seventh place at an elementary school Spelling Bee contest when she was in second grade. This year she aimed for the gold and came out victorious.
“I feel like I’m naturally good at spelling because I read a lot,” Lindsey said. “I’ve been studying the list of words that Scripps provided. I find the words in dictionaries to learn about those that I’m not familiar with and to get a better grasp on spelling. I’ve been learning about the roots of words and about the different languages where they originate to find common spelling patterns.”
Eleanor Key, Lindsey’s mom, remembers how her daughter would memorize books and read them to her when she was only four years old. By the time Lindsey started preschool, her reading skills were so advanced that her teachers found it difficult to give her challenges, Key said.
“They started letting her read to the class and she loved it,” she said. “Lindsey was into novels when she was seven, and it was challenging for me to find her books that were age-appropriate and matched the level that she was prepared to read. She’s always had this really big passion for reading, and I know that it has everything to do with the vocabulary that she uses. I am immensely proud of what she’s accomplished.”
Greiner Principal Yvonne Rojas invited representatives from the Dallas Sports Commission, Dallas ISD’s RLA Department staff, school personnel and Lindsey’s best friend to celebrate her regional victory. Courtesy of the Dallas Sports Commission and Southwest Airlines, the top two participants of the regional contest will receive all-expenses paid trips to Washington, D.C., to compete in the final event on June 2nd.
“The Dallas Sports Commission is passionate about supporting our community in everything we do,” says Monica Paul, executive director of the organization. “One of the most impactful ways we’ve found to do that is through the Dallas Regional Spelling Bee. It’s a fantastic opportunity for us to champion young students in North Texas and it naturally encourages the students to stay engaged with their education.”
More than just spelling
The E.W. Scripps Company has managed the National Spelling Bee since 1925 with the purpose of helping students learn concepts, increase their vocabulary and develop correct English usage.
The Dallas Sports Commission – a nonprofit that pursues amateur, grassroots, collegiate and professional championship events – partnered with Scripps in 2017 to sponsor the Annual Dallas Regional Spelling Bee program. To qualify for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, contestants must be in the eighth grade or lower and have won their individual school bee and local county bee.
Alison Criner, the Greiner librarian, volunteers every year to organize the schoolwide competition. Besides serving as the campus Spelling Bee facilitator, she leads the Greiner Spelling Club, where students meet once a month to play Scrabble and other word games. In her years as librarian, she’s noticed that spelling contests and activities can teach students valuable life skills that go beyond words.
“Reading language arts, the school library, words – it all goes together, and I just enjoy doing it,” Criner said. “Through a Spelling Bee competition, students experience public speaking and learn how to behave in an academic competition. We also practice every word, which teaches them vocabulary. The better you can read and write, the easier some jobs will definitely be.”