BURLEY – Karen Shaw remembers watching the Scripps National Spelling Bee on television when she was a child.
At the time, she thought, “Wow, these kids know how to spell words I can’t even pronounce.”
Now her 12-year-old daughter Jessie Shaw will represent south central Idaho at the Scripps National Spelling Bee Sunday through June 3 in National Harbor, Md. The family leaves Saturday on an all-expenses paid trip.
Jessie attends White Pine Elementary School in Burley and was the winner of the third annual Times-News regional spelling bee on Feb. 27. Jessie was one of eight students in the final round. All of the others misspelled their word and she won the championship round by correctly spelling dehydration.
“I never would have guessed,” Karen said Thursday. “We are so proud of her.”
There are four children representing Idaho from Hayden, Boise, Lewiston and Burley. Jessie is no. 267 out of 291 competitors in the spelling bee.
This year was the second time Jessie competed in the regional spelling bee.
“I’m good at memorizing and my mom and dad encouraged me to do the best I could,” Jessie, said.
Karen was in the audience at regionals, but Jessie’s father, Sean, wasn’t in attendance. After wining the regional competition, Jessie said she couldn’t wait to share the news with her father.
“I was thinking my dad wouldn’t believe I won,” she said. “There were lots of kids there. In the seventh and eighth grade too. They were older and they know more words than I do.”
Jessie said she’s excited and nervous for the national competition.
“I’m nervous about spelling a word wrong but my parents said I shouldn’t be,” Jessie said. “They’ll be proud of me no matter what.”
She’s been studying the list the competition has provided to prepare. Karen said Jessie studies quite a bit after school.
“She loves to read,” Karen said. “She reads a lot — thick books. Her love of reading has exposed her to a lot of words.”
Jessie has two book shelves in her room filled with about 300 books.
In kindergarten, Karen said Jessie was already reading a couple of grade levels ahead. Jessie is also involved in drama and plays the violin.
Jessie’s older brother and grandparents will also travel to watch her compete.
“I’m excited,” Karen said. “My husband is the one that gets a little more nervous.”
It will be the first trip to the nation’s capital for everyone, except Sean.
“We are going to see some of the sights,” Karen said.
Jessie said she wants to visit the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo.