Girl ready for big-time spelling bee

Andrew Robinson
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Bags packed for Scripps event in Washington, D.C.

Twelve-year-old Cassandra Clowe-Coish, winner of the Telegram's 2013 Spelling Bee, shows off a good luck card made by her classmates at her home in St. John's Thursday. — Photo by Rhonda Hayward/The Telegram

A girl from St. John's is hoping her success at spelling will continue when she travels south of the border to test her skills alongside some of the brightest young minds there are.

Cassandra Clowe-Coish, 12, won the The Telegram's 2013 Spelling Bee in St. John's in March. She was awarded a $3,000 cash prize and earned the right to represent the province at the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Cassandra leaves for Washington, D.C., today.

The Holy Cross Junior High student will be among 281 participants in the event hoping their spelling skills will take them to the finals, which are broadcast by American sports network ESPN.

Along with youth from Canada and the United States, participants will travel from the Bahamas, Jamaica, Japan, South Korea, China, and Ghana to take part.

It will be a unique experience for the Grade 7 student, who has never travelled outside Newfoundland and Labrador. Today's flight to Washington also marks her first experience on an airplane.

Cassandra said she did not have any expectations for how she would fare at The Telegram event, though Eunice Coish thought her daughter had a shot at finishing in the Top 10.

"When she went down for the bee, I was expecting she would be in at least the Top 10, because when I was asking her the words ... she knew how to spell every word."

She went on to say that Cassandra is not one to get nervous under pressure.

Cassandra studied a lot in preparation for the St. John's bee, taking plenty of time to go over the words in a booklet provided prior to the event.

"I'd study the list first and then give it to (mom) and (she would) ask me how to spell it," said Cassandra.

A girl who loves to read outside of school, Cassandra especially enjoys books about history and war.

"I love books. A big chunk of it is World War Two."

Since winning the spelling bee in St. John's, Cassandra has continued to study hard in preparation for her trip to Washington.

"On the spelling bee website there's study tools, so I've been using those as an aid."

Her stay in the U.S. will last 11 days and include fancy functions, sightseeing tours, and other events. The bee takes place May 28-30. Her mother and grandmother will accompany her on the trip.

"I'm excited for her and I'm really proud of her," said Coish.

There are no lofty goals in place for Cassandra with regards to her Washington experience. She ultimately considers it an educational opportunity.

"I've expanded my vocabulary lots since way back when. I know lots of new words, so it was a good experience for learning."

Cassandra's classmates will be rooting for her back in St. John's. They made a special banner to wish her luck that includes personal messages and illustrations of bees.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee has a reputation for tossing out some real doozies when it comes to words. Winning words from years past include gladiolus, stromuhr, serrefine, cymotrichous, and logorrhea.

In 2012, Jennifer Mong of St. John's made it to the semi-final round at Scripps, one of 50 competitors to do so. Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Scripps, The Telegram, ESPN

Geographic location: St. John's, Washington, D.C., United States Canada Bahamas Jamaica Japan South Korea China Ghana Newfoundland and Labrador

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Recent comments

  • BW
    May 24, 2013 - 17:02

    My son and another student tied for 2nd place in The Telegram Spelling Bee, where Cassandra took 1st place. Best of luck to her from our family and we hope she does NL proud! Go go go!

  • Mary
    May 24, 2013 - 13:05

    Good Luck little girl, hope you beat them all,and get the top prize. I'm rootin' for you.