WASHINGTON,May 26 – Only two spellers from Florida have ever won the Scripps National Spelling Bee since it was started in 1925.
But Margaret Williams,who lives in Lehigh Acres,Fla.,and attends Lehigh Acres Middle School,hopes to be number three.
“I think that they are going to slaughter me,but I don't mind,” said Williams,13,who will arrive here on Saturday.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee will begin Wednesday. The preliminary championship rounds will be live on ESPN Thursday from noon to 3 p.m. ABC will air the championship rounds that night from 8 to10 p.m.
“Slaughter” might be a harsh assessment coming from anyone else,but it fits Margaret's character.
“My friends call it ‘unconfidence,'” Margaret said. “It's nice. It wasn't really anything that I had expected. I try not to make a big deal of it.”
This will be her second visit to nation's capital,but her first trip was for a vacation.
Margaret's mother,Marsha Williams,said her daughter is not over confident but instead very humble.
And Margaret comes by her spelling talent naturally. Her mother said Margaret's great- grandmother used to win spelling bees in the late 1890s and won a supply of pencils for the school year. Pencils were very expensive back then.
Marsha Williams,a cervical cancer survivor,will come with her daughter to Washington,but older brother Sam,17,will go on a camping trip. Margaret's father,Clay Vogt,died seven years ago
Bill Gerstner,Margaret's language arts teacher,said,“She's a girl who really likes to get into what she's doing. She's really good and is spending many hours on this. I think she will have a good chance at winning the National Spelling Bee.”
Margaret said the key to her spelling success is that she uses several Web sites that allow her to see the words used in sentences,find the words' origins and properly pronounce the words.
Margaret,who wants to become a biochemist and attend Harvard Law School,received the Language Arts School Award from Lehigh for writing several essays, including a Medieval times play.
She is also one of only three students in her school who received the highest score of a six on the writing section and the only one to receive a five on the science section of the Florida Comprehensive Achievement Test.
“Margaret is a real independent learner who does everything on her own,” Gerstner said.
To get to the national spelling bee,Margaret first won her class spelling bee,then the school spelling bee and then outlasted 50 other contestants from 26 Lee County schools to win the Lee County Spelling Bee title May 18 at Three Oaks Middle School.
“I was in shock. I didn't really expect that she would win the county spelling bee,” her mother said. “She missed school three weeks before the bee because she was sick with a virus.”
Five days after she won the title,Margaret graduated from 8th grade. She will start the international baccalaureate program at Riverdale High School in September.
Gerstner said that Margaret's peers are fascinated that she has all this knowledge.
“She taught herself how to read before she got to kindergarten,” Marsha Williams said. “She skipped the first grade.”
There will be four rounds of competition Wednesday for the approximately 275 spellers from all over the country. If more than 45 spellers remain at the end of the fourth round,there will be an additional round to get to that number.
The opening rounds will not be televised.
For more information go to http://www.spellingbee.com