Fort Irwin student wins first place in 12th annual Spelling Bee

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A packed room of nervous children and anxious parents looked on as the 12th annual Daily Press and Desert Dispatch Spelling Bee was underway inside the Desert Mountain Education Center in Apple Valley, Calif., Feb. 21.

Forty-nine spellers were whittled down to four top contenders in four rounds. Kaylee Kim, 12, a seventh grader at Fort Irwin Middle School, won first place and a trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She correctly spelled the word “principality” in the fourth round and beat out three others who misspelled the words “Maundy,” “Judaism” and “nickelodeon.”

“I’m just very happy,” Kaylee said after her win. “I was like praying the entire time. I’m very thankful to God for helping me today. I’m just trying to stay humble and I’m very happy I get the chance to go back to the National Spelling Bee.”

Kaylee said she competed in the national competition in fifth grade and nearly made it to the semifinals. Her family just moved to Fort Irwin from Fort Leavenworth two months ago and her current school is the 10th she’s been enrolled in, her mother said. Her father is a chaplain in Fort Irwin’s Operations Group.

Kaylee’s victory marks the sixth time and fourth year in a row a student from Silver Valley Unified has taken home the top prize at the regional Spelling Bee, according to teacher Wilson Malana.

Malana said he practiced with Kaylee every morning and afternoon leading up to the competition.

“I’m so grateful and really so proud,” said her mother Susie Kim. “I really appreciate the teacher who helped Kaylee all month.”

Up to two students from 25 different schools participated in the competition and many came from Barstow Unified, Silver Valley Unified and various Victor Valley school districts.

Daily Press Editor Steve Hunt was the pronouncer of the Spelling Bee and commended the students for a job well done. The two judges were Lisa Kennedy and Kathy Young and sponsors included Shear Realty, Victorville Rotary Club and Victor Valley Global Medical Center.

(Reprinted with permission from Steve Hunt, editor of the Victorville, Calif., “Daily Press”)