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Army Europe Spelling Champ Prepares for Nationals

By Amy Newcomb/USAG Grafenwoehr

GRAFENWOEHR, April 22, 2009 - Aria Sharon, a Netzaberg Middle School eighth-grader, is preparing for a trip to the nation's capital to participate in the Scripps National Spelling Bee next month.

Netzaberg's Parent Teacher School Association sponsored Sharon, who competed March 14, in the U.S. Army Europe bee at Ramstein Elementary School. Sharon placed first among 34 participants from military schools throughout USAREUR, earning the trip to Washington, D.C.

The USAREUR spelling bee marked Sharon's third spelling competition. The first came when she was in third grade. The second came earlier this year when she won the local spelling bee which was sponsored by the Netzaberg PTSA.

Although she began studying for the USAREUR bee after winning the local competition, she said, "The last week coming up to (the USAREUR spelling bee) was when my parents were like 'we've got to get you studying'."

"I had studied so much that it was sort of like, okay, I see it in my mind. I know what I am going to say.... but I was really nervous in the beginning," Sharon said about how difficult the spelling bee at Ramstein was.

Spelling her way to victory was not difficult for Sharon, however, thanks to her English teacher who made Sharon write her spelling words five times each to focus on what letters were in the words.

"That's how you remember them for spelling tests, so I thought I should really use that," Sharon said.

Dr. Elizabeth Childs, principal of Netzaberg Middle School, said that going to the Scripps National Spelling Bee was a big deal for both Sharon and the school. "We are very excited and proud of her," Childs added.

Childs also said NMS staff will provide a spelling coach for Sharon to help her study for the national competition. "We are going to try to give her about 40 minutes every other day to study during school," Childs said.

If Sharon wins the Scripps National Spelling Bee in May she will bring home a trophy and will likely have the opportunity to participate in national media appearances, amongst other prizes.