Spelling success

By on June 4, 2014

Eight questions with eighth-grade Lititz resident Hannah Citsay who went to her second Scripps National Spelling Bee last week

Scripps National Spelling Bee contestant Hannah Citsay (left) and her mother Mary (father Bruce missing) at St. Anne’s Catholic School in Lancaster  on Tuesday.

Scripps National Spelling Bee contestant Hannah Citsay (left) and her mother Mary (father Bruce missing) at St. Anne’s Catholic School in Lancaster on Tuesday.

The word(s) is Hannah Citsay, can you use it in a sentence?
“Hannah Citsay is graduating in two days and is very glad.”

What is the secret to your success?
“I guess I have a good memory. If I see a word once or twice I’ve got it down. But what also helps is studying the origin of words…like French words have a lot of double consonants and Greek words will have a lot of Ys and CHs.”

This year is your second consecutive trip to Scripps National Spelling Bee, how have the experiences differed?
“We had no idea what we were getting into last year and I didn’t expect anything, and I was glad when I finished in 12th place. This year we kind of knew the ropes a little bit but I didn’t do as well on the written test which was in the first round and that’s why I missed the cut in the fourth round.”

Ed note: Hannah, while on stage, correctly spelled “schipperke,” a Belgian breed of dog, and “objicient,” meaning one who opposes something, during verbal rounds Wednesday (May 28).
While 200 of the 281 spellers succeeded in the verbal rounds, less than 50 – who had scored best on the (written) computer tests –  made it to last Thursday’s semifinal rounds. The computer test included spelling and vocabulary questions.

You missed your final St. Anne’s soccer game – a tournament last weekend in Ephrata – to attend the spelling bee; what other sports do you like?
“Basketball is really my sport, I’m playing in a summer league right now at Lancaster Catholic actually.

It’s interesting that ESPN broadcasts the national spelling bee and I suppose there’s sport-like competition there. How do you compare the spelling bee with the sports you play?

“I think they’re completely different. Honestly I don’t know why ESPN covers it but I think it’s cool. You require quick thinking in sports and I suppose in spelling there’s a little bit of quick thinking up there.”

What words are memorable to you from the Scripps National Spelling Bee competition, not necessarily ones you’ve been asked to spell.

“Ouagadougou, which is a town in Africa that was on the written test last year. I think one or two kids got it right.”

How do you prepare for the big spelling bee and what advice would you give to a potential contestant?
“Well, I didn’t realize how much kids study for this but I did study the list they gave us for the first two rounds on stage. And I studied two binders of words used in spelling bees before (called the Consolidated Words List). A company called Hexco mailed me a free 30-day subscription that helps you learn words and patterns from different languages.”

How has the trips to two Scripps National Spelling Bees impacted your life?
“I’d say one of the most important things was meeting people. The camaraderie is great and you meet a lot of great people that I hope to continue to see in the future.

***
We caught up with Hannah and her mother Mary at St. Anne’s Catholic School in Lancaster on Tuesday.
The word(s) is Hannah Citsay, can you use it in a sentence?
“Hannah Citsay, she surprises me everyday.” – Mary Citsay.

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