Southern Utah student competes in National Spelling Bee

Leeann Loveland, a seventh grader at Liberty Youth Academy in St. George, Utah, participates in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Washington, D.C., date not specified | Photo courtesy of Olimpia Loveland, St. George News.

ST. GEORGE — A Southern Utah student had the opportunity to compete last week in one of the most iconic competitions in the United States – the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Leeann Loveland, a seventh grader at Liberty Youth Academy in St. George, studied every day for more than a month when she found out she was accepted into the national competition.

Her mother Olimpia Loveland said her daughter would study the rules of the contest, as well as the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary, which is the official source the competition uses to select words.

“She would add a word each day,” Olimpia Loveland told St. George News.

Leeann, who goes by Lee, won her school’s spelling bee at Liberty Youth Academy, a private school that combines education with the teachings of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Besides excelling in spelling, Lee tested high on every subject when she started at the academy, Stephanie Dale, the school’s principal, said.

Leeann Loveland, a seventh grader at Liberty Youth Academy in St. George, Utah, with Jacques Bailly, the official announcer for the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Washington, D.C., date not specified | Photo courtesy of Olimpia Loveland, St. George News

“As a seventh grader, she was in our scholar class, which is basically a high school class and consistently got straight A’s,” Dale said, adding that she got 100% on some of her finals.

Lee also qualified for a regional spelling bee in Utah but was unable to compete due to Liberty Youth Academy being a private school. Because the academy doesn’t belong to the Washington County School District, it was unable to sponsor Lee for the regional competition. However, Scripps National Spelling Bee now has a program that accepts students from private schools as long as their school is officially enrolled in the competition.

Lee made it through the first and second rounds of the competition, held in Washington, D.C., but she was unable to qualify among the Top 50 contestants because of her score on the written test – an exam that tests both spelling and vocabulary.

“I was really nervous cause I didn’t think I would get very far,” Lee said.

During each round, each speller only had to spell one word. The two words Lee had to spell were “galoot” and “idiopathic.”

While spelling galoot was easy for Lee, she said idiopathic was more difficult.

“I was not sure because I heard it before, but I didn’t know how it was like spelled.”

Although she didn’t make it to the finals, Lee said it was exciting to be on national television and have her friends and teachers in St. George watch her. The competition had eight winners in the end.

“We are extremely proud of her,” Dale said.

Email: mheckenliable@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews | @markeekaenews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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