Girard student gets 4th shot at spelling bee title
By AMANDA TONOLI
Angela McKenna, a Girard Middle School eighth-grader, is determined to win this year as she returns for her fourth Vindicator Regional Spelling Bee on Saturday.
Last year she made it into the final four.
Her start into the world of strong spellers began with her father, Robert McKenna, who routinely took her to the library.
“My dad would take me to the library when I was still in a baby seat and just read to me all the time,” Angela, 14, said.
That experience caused Angela to find a love for literature and language – her favorite book is “The House of Hades” by Rick Riordan.
“Each word makes up a story, and it’s like being transported to another world,” she said.
Her interest in reading and words aren’t all that landed Angela in the regional bee four times in four years. There also was inspiration from another student.
“I remember watching a student from my school win the spelling bee, and I thought, ‘Wow that kid’s really smart. He’s the best speller in the whole school and I could never do that,’ and then I did,” she said.
Angela said she is grateful to have her parents as her cheerleaders – and chauffeurs to Olive Garden celebrations after the spelling bees.
Robert McKenna said it’s important for all children to become proficient in language.
“Reading and spelling go hand in hand, and working on the skill on one develops the skill on the other,” he said.
And it is clear Angela’s father successfully instilled that in her.
She makes an attempt to finish every book she starts, having a curiosity that drives her forward even with the least interesting books.
“I want to know what happens,” she said.
Her attitude carries over into her spelling bee career.
“We have been thinking about asking if Angela can be a volunteer for future spelling bees with other students or with judging,” Robert McKenna said.
That’s because, being an eighth-grader, this can be her last Vindicator bee.
Angela also is the daughter of Roberta Cordova.
Also returning to the spelling bee for the second time will be: Zachary Grant, 13, of W.S. Guy Middle School; Cooper Selley, 11, of Western Reserve Middle School; Jeremiah McQueen, 11, of Taft Elementary School; Bella Eliser, 13, of Lowellville Middle School; Norah Jaidi, 9, of Kirkmere Discovery Elementary School; Abigail Johnson, 10, of the Johnson Academy of Excellence; Moses Lytle, 14, of the Chaney STEM/VPA Campus; Devesh Mohapatra, 9, of Akiva Academy; and Nicholas DeBucci, 14, of Springfield Intermediate School. Nina Dill, 14, of the Montessori School of the Mahoning Valley, will be returning for her third spelling bee.