Spelling Champ From Spring Lake NJ
Spelling champ in limelight | Home News Tribune Online:
On her fifth and final attempt, the 13-year-old Spring Lake eighth-grader had won the Scripps National Spelling Bee, this time in front of millions of television viewers in North America. She beat Canadian Finola Hackett in the 20th round by correctly spelling "ursprache," which means a parent language.
Kerry bested 10 million children who began vying for the spelling bee title in the fall; 274 finalists competed Wednesday and Thursday in the national rounds. She represented Monmouth, Ocean and Middlesex counties in the national event after winning the March 9 regional spelling bee sponsored by the Home News Tribune and the Asbury Park Press.
Kerry's key to victory was memorizing 99 percent of the 23,000 words on a master list used by contest judges. Learning them over five years, despite earlier setbacks at the contest, taught her the value of persistence. Kerry tied for seventh last year.
Every day, according to her mother, Paula, the straight-A student would come home from school, have snacks and milk or sometimes her favorite mint-chip ice cream, walk the dogs, do her homework, listen to music or relax, and study the word list for an hour or two."Kerry, said years of preparing for the bee have taught to stay focused on whatever task she undertakes.
'You realize that to excel you have to work hard,' she said. 'And not give up.'"