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"When I Was in the 6th Grade..."

Dr. Jill Biden at the Spelling Bee(Photo by Mark Bowen / Scripps National Spelling Bee)
Thursday night was a very special night for me. I attended the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals. I had been looking forward to the event for weeks, and was thrilled to meet many of the spellers and their families and welcome them to Washington D.C. These energized young students came from all over the United States as well as from Ghana, China, New Zealand and other countries. It was an incredible gathering.
As I told the spellers in person, they were living out one of my dreams. When I was in the 6th grade, I was the spelling bee champ in my class, but on the day of the competition to go on to the next level, I told my mom that I wasn’t feeling well. I was too nervous to continue. So you can imagine how much respect I have for these students.
As a mother and an English teacher, I know how hard these young people worked and the discipline it took to make it here. I thanked their parents, families and teachers for all of their support along the way. I truly believe that confidence is the most important thing we can give a child, and all 293 of the spellers demonstrated such confidence.
The finals were full of nerves and excitement: I cringed when I heard "the bell" and knew a speller had missed a word, and stood on my feet and cheered with the crowd when a speller successfully navigated a challenging word. It was inspiring to see how much these energized students love words: the night was an English teachers’ dream.
I am already looking forward to the 2010 Bee.