Just last month, Woodmore sixth grader Phoebe Jackson accomplished an impressive feat by winning the Northwest Ohio Championship Spelling Bee.
Jackson won the event, which featured 52 competitors and took place at Owens Community College’s Fine & Performing Arts Center, after two hours of competition by correctly spelling the world “convulsion.”
The runner-up was Oak Harbor resident Katelyn Farmer, who received a spelling bee plaque for her efforts.
As a result, Jackson will compete next month in the Scripps’ National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. on May 25-31. Her victory earned her an all-expenses-paid trip to the nation’s capital. Jackson also received a Merriam-Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, a plaque and a $100 savings bond.
Some of the other words Jackson correctly spelled were gregarious, nabob, albatross, mercerize, misogynist, sauerbraten and zeitgeber.
But Jackson didn’t go straight to the Northwest Ohio Championships. She had to win two other spelling bees to make it this far, taking first at her school’s spelling bee before finishing second at the Ottawa County Spelling Bee. All this after finishing in the top 15 at last year’s regional spelling competition, something Jackson used as motivation to win it this time around.
According to her parents, she seems to take it all in stride.
“She was actually pretty calm about it and she's been in quite a few plays, so she doesn't get very nervous,” said her father, Kevin. “And she's reading pretty often. She does a lot of reading and she's probably more well-read than myself and my wife. My wife says I'm not supposed to tell you that.”
Organizers say spelling bees are about more learning than how to spell difficult words. They help students to improve and increase their vocabulary while developing a better understanding of the English language.
Success in major spelling bee competition is usually a precursor for success later in life, they add. According to Slate.com, the last six National Spelling Bee winners attended the following universities: Harvard, Cornell, MIT, Yale, Tufts, and Duke.
“We're very proud of her,” her mother, Krista, said. “She worked very hard for it and stuck to it for a long time — that's hard for a kid to do. That's something you can only do if you really want to. Phoebe is like any other kid. She plays soccer and likes to participate in musicals and started playing the saxophone in the band and singing in the choir.
“It shows that she has some real study skills and some perseverance. It takes a lot. All those words, I'm sure it will come in handy during SAT and ACT time when she’s older. She has a whole different breath of vocabulary. She's a well-read kid.”
Jackson, 12, who has a brother and a sister, isn’t content with just having made it this far. She is intending to make her mark when she heads to Washington.
“She said she's going to study for it,” Krista said. “She's looking at different ways of studying for the test. We'll be working on the words. She's using the list and we’ll get another list. I think she wants to get as far as she can.”
What made her accomplishment that much more impressive was the fact that she took part in a group competition earlier in the day at Pike-Delta-York High School. The Destination Imagination problem-solving competition, which Jackson took part in with some of her fellow classmates, features teams taking part in standards-based challenges that focus on aspects like technical, scientific and fine arts, to name a few. Oddly enough, Jackson and her teammates finished first and will be heading to the state competition.
The DI competition was held at 8:30 a.m. before Jackson’s father drove Phoebe to Owens’ campus for the spelling bee.