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03-26-03: Celina girl spells her way to national finals
The Daily Standard
    Emily Schindler is priming for the big time - the national spelling bee in Washington, D.C., in May on the wings of the word c-o-n-g-l-o-m-e-r-a-t-e.
    She correctly spelled conglomerate last weekend to make her the regional spelling champion at the Scripps Howard Regional Spelling Bee in Lima.
    Schindler, a seventh-grader at Celina Middle School, said she feels "nervous but excited" about her week in Washington to compete against the nation's other 249 regional champions.
    No stranger to big-stakes spelling, Schindler has been competing and winning for the past three years - well, except for that first year.
    "In the fourth grade I didn't even make it past the school bee. But the next year I won at school, but missed Ohematoma' at the city bee," Schindler told The Daily Standard at her home Tuesday afternoon.
    Last year she won the city bee but missed on "optimistic" at the regional.
    "I was real nervous - and hungry," she explained, adding a word that always gives her trouble is "cappelletti." "And, I don't even know what it is."
    (A food dictionary on the Internet defines cappelletti as "a small, stuffed pasta similar to ravioli.")
    The practice book contestants study contains thousands of words like cappelletti, but no definitions or pronunciation guide, which can create a problem at the bee.
    Schindler's father/coach Tony tests her on words every day, but if his pronunciation differs from that used at the bee, it can be confusing. And it happens even at home when her mother Linda helps her study.
    "The way she says some words just makes us laugh so hard we don't get much done," said the tall, poised 13-year-old.
    Plus it also happens when the chips are down. At the regional bee this year, one contestant corrected the pronouncer's (word giver) pronunciation and then went on to spell the word.
    Schindler said there's not much time to get to know the other contestants because everybody is focusing on the bee and doing last minute mental exercises on the tricky words. Cappelletti, maybe?
    And words there are aplenty.
    For the national bee, the word bank includes the thousands she already has in the practice guide plus any word from the 2,662-page Webster's Third New International Dictionary she received as a prize at the regional bee.
    Her plan is as it's been all year - learn 20 words a day.
    "Well, that's the plan, but I usually do about 10," said Schindler, whose other activities include band, yearbook staff, student council and Girl Scouts.
    She's also an avid reader, a skill she mastered at age 2. Her personal library contains hundreds of books, many science fiction and fantasy by her favorite authors J.R.R. Tolkein and Terry Brooks.
    Schindler will travel to Washington for the May 25-30 national bee with her father. Linda Schindler will hold the home fort with the two little Schindlers, Katy, 7, and Michael, 3.


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