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June 26, 2019

5/17/2019 10:52:00 AM
Highland's Washa advances her way to D.C. spelling bee
For a Highland Elementary School student, using her talents in spelling has given her the opportunity to represent her school on a national level.
Julianne Washa, a fourth grader at Highland, has spelled her way to a trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee-held every spring in National Harbor, Maryland. She is the daughter of Zach and Andrea Washa.
Julianne's national adventure for the spelling bee began when she participated in her classroom spelling bee. After being one of the two selected in her class, she participated in the school spelling bee. She originally finished second, but due to a dropout, she advanced to regionals.
Andrea Washa, Julianne's mother, said that for each competition she had received study sheets in order to prepare.
Interestingly enough at the regional level, none of the words in the study sheet were used in the competition.
"That was a surprise to us," Andrea said.
However, by correctly spelling the word "Incognito," she was able to come away victorious and advance to the state level.
While Julianne only competed in two state level rounds, the trip to D.C. became a reality in another way. She went through RSVBee, a program launched by the Scripps National Spelling Bee that provides another pathway for students to compete at the national level.
According to, regions that have sponsors have a higher chance of spelling at the national level, while a student in a non-sponsored region may not.
"It's for kids in areas where you almost can't win, no matter how good you are," Andrea said. "We just kind of wanted to have the experience."
The Washa's thought the way to advance to the national level was through another competition, however the selection process is different.
"We thought maybe it's like a lottery, but it isn't," Andrea said. "They somehow choose a certain number of kids from each age group. We got an email that they picked her."
Since then, Julianne has been busy reviewing 600 word study sheets, studying with her teachers, reading the Merriam Webster Dictionary, and also practicing her spelling on the family's chalkboards.
"At random times of the day, my teacher pulls out the Merriam Webster Dictionary, flips to a random page, and puts her finger on a word," Julianne said.
She has also prevented stage fright by focusing more on the spelling reviewer, and less on the audience. She said one of the most important parts of participating in a spelling bee is to not get stressed.
"If you're in front of a big audience, pretend they're not there," Julianne said. "Don't get too stressed about what your word is if it's too hard. Just have fun with it."
Julianne is thankful to her family, her friends, and Highland Community School for their support in her huge accomplishment.
The national spelling bee takes place May 27 through May 30. The Dodgeville Chronicle wishes Julianne the best of luck!

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