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Fletcher hitting the books ahead of Saturday

Local student studying hard in preparation for National Spelling Bee

GETTING READY — Isabella Fletcher, who just finished seventh-grade at Harding Middle School, spends several hours a day studying in preparation for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Fletcher won the Jefferson-Harrison County Regional Spelling Bee, presented by the Herald-Star, on March 13 and will compete in the preliminary round of the national bee on Saturday. -- Andrew Grimm

STEUBENVILLE — Excited and nervous. Those are the words Harding Middle School’s Isabella Fletcher used to describe how she’s feeling heading into the preliminary round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee on Saturday.

Fletcher, who just completed the seventh grade, earned her spot in the national prelims by winning the Jefferson-Harrison County Regional Spelling Bee, presented by the Herald-Star, on March 13.

“I’m preparing a lot,” she said. “I’m very excited and nervous.”

She said her days in preparation for Saturday have become a routine of studying hard.

“I sleep for eight hours, I eat for about two and probably do other stuff for like two, and the rest is studying,” Fletcher said.

She acknowledged that those she was able to outlast in March worked equally as hard and said she looks forward to representing the region on the national stage.

“I think it’s pretty amazing to get to represent the region,” Fletcher said. “I do feel kind of bad for the other kids because they studied hard, too, for this. But, I also studied hard for this. I think it’s going to be great.”

She knows the competition in Saturday’s preliminary round, which will be held virtually as every round of the national bee has and will be until the finals, will be tough.

“It’s kind of scary but also exciting because you don’t know who is going to be in it. There might be kids that have more time to study for it than me,” she said.

Fletcher credited one of her teachers for getting her involved in competing in spelling bees.

“My teacher, Gina Arlesic, she coordinates our school bees and she started talking about the spelling be a lot,” she said. “I started studying for it and I made it. This is my first year going to regionals and nationals, I’ve done the school bees before, but I’ve never made it this far.

“Getting to nationals is like the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s amazing because I have worked very hard.”

An added wrinkle to the competition this year, Fletcher said, is learning the definitions of the words. She said this round of the bee features a list of 800,000 possible words.

“It’s a lot,” added Fletcher, the daughter of Marlo Fletcher and Jayapal Reddy of Steubenville.

To learn all of that, she said, there are resources available to help participants study.

“There is a ‘word club’ app the bee provides,” she said. “They give you money to buy study sets on the word club app. It’s pretty cool. It helps me study a lot, mainly the definitions. I also use Quizlet online, which helps me a lot, too.”

She said her favorite subject in school is history and she is also good at math.

Those who advance from the preliminary rounds will compete in the quarterfinal and semifinal rounds vying for a trip to the July 8 finals at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort.

The semifinals will be televised on ESPN’s platforms beginning on June 27.

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