Spelling bee winner hopes to make it to national competition

Freedom New Mexico: Christina Calloway Champion of the Roosevelt County Regional Spelling Bee Abigail Cameron, 10, holds up her new title proud for the audience. She’s taking a break now but we’ll be back to studying hard soon in her pursuit of the state champion title in March.

Christina Calloway

“Behoove” was the word that ended it all, a word that when spelled correctly usually means virtually nothing for most people, but for 10-year-old Abigail Cameron, it meant she was a champion.

She had confidence all along that she would be champion, and not because she’s been studying every day since Christmas break, but because she says her grandmother inspired her to win by taking the time out to study with her every day.

Cameron was one of 11 kids from Roosevelt county competing Saturday in the Roosevelt County Regional Spelling Bee at Eastern New Mexico University. She was one of six students in the junior division. Cameron and two other junior division winners advanced and competed against five other students in the senior division.

The spelling bee featured winners and runners-up from individual spelling bees that have already taken place in Roosevelt county schools. The junior division is grades five and lower and the senior division is open to grades six through eight.

Self-confidence was imperative to have according to a lot of the children competing, but if they didn’t bring it, spelling bee announcer Louise Shoemaker certainly thinks the competition builds it.

“You can see their head lift and their back get straighter as they walk on the stage,” Shoemaker said. “To be recognized for a skill and to feel like ‘I have accomplished something through my hard work with my brain, that I can do something that will get me recognition and let me know that I’m good at something,’ of course you feel good about yourself; it’s all about confidence.”

Cameron entered the competition as a runner-up from Valencia Elementary School and placed as the runner-up in the initial junior division of this competition, losing to Rebekah Christensen from Lindsey-Steiner Elementary.

Because spelling bee rules allow the winner and runner-up of the junior division to compete in the senior division, Cameron and Christensen went on to compete for the champion title.

After rounds of competitive play, Cameron was named the winner of the spelling bee, beating seven other competitors, and she received a $500 scholarship to ENMU and a bid to compete at the state spelling bee in Albuquerque in March.

“The other competitors did great,” Cameron said. “I’m excited to go to Albuquerque, and I’m going to bring three friends along for support.”

Cameron said she had a chance at elimination when she was asked to spell periscope and originally spelled it incorrectly on her notepad but changed her mind before she spelled it aloud.

She checked her spelling and went with her instinct and it paid off, but according to the runner-up of the senior division, Tyler Richardson of Floyd, he lost to Cameron for that exact mistake.

“If they give you a notepad, definitely use it,” Richardson said.

Some of the children vowed they’d be back next year to compete for the title, and Cameron is hoping she wins big at the state level and gets a chance to go to the national competition with the help and support of her family.

“We are so proud of her,” said her mother, Heather Cameron. “She has worked very hard.”