LAKEWOOD RANCH — McNeal Elementary School student Anissa Murgo is the first to admit spelling wasn’t her best subject.
“I wasn’t a good speller at all,” she says, giggling.
However, Murgo is positive proof that hard work can yield impressive results. Despite being the youngest competitor, the fourth-grader, who turned 10 March 30, beat out seven other local spelling wizards to win the Scripps National Spelling Bee Local Finals March 24 at St. Joseph Catholic School. In addition to Murgo, the competition, sponsored by Coastal Orthopedics & Sports Medicine/Pain Management, featured school winners from Rowlett Elementary; Haile, Johnson, King, Lincoln and Nolan middle schools; and St. Joseph.
“I was so nervous,” she says of the local competition. “My teeth were chattering.”
But those nerves apparently did not affect her ability to spell.
After her final opponent misspelled “pitchblende,” Murgo correctly spelled that word in addition to two others to take the local crown. And now, she’ll represent Manatee County at the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee June 1-2 in Washington, D.C. She also received The Samuel Lois Sugarman $100 savings bond, a one-year subscription to www.Merriam-WebsterUnabridged.com and a one-year subscription to Britannica Online for Kids.
And, perhaps most importantly, she won an unabridged copy of Webster’s Third New International Dictionary.
“It’s huge,” she says.
Murgo earned her spot in the local finals after winning McNeal’s school-wide bee in January. She insists she has no secret tricks to her uncanny abilities and, in fact, learned everything from a handout containing more than 1,000 words with origins in 13 different languages.
“I studied so hard for two months,” she says. “Every day except when I took a break.”
Now with her new dictionary at her disposal, Murgo says she’ll step up her training for nationals.
“On words you don’t know, you can use techniques (to help),” she says. “First, you ask for the origin, then the definition and (to) use it in a sentence).”
While in Washington for the national bee, Murgo also will have the opportunity to tour the city and its historic sites. However, Murgo says she’s most excited about the competition.
“I’m looking forward to seeing all the other good spellers from across the country,” she says.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee’s Bee Week 2011 is scheduled to air live on ESPN on June 2.
Contact Michael Eng at [email protected].
Anissa Murgo says the most difficult word she has mastered is “nachtmusik,” a German word meaning “nocturne” or “night music.”
Sarah Boucher: Nolan Middle, grade 8
Loryn Carpenter: Rowlett Elementary, grade 5
Bea Gelongo: St. Joseph Catholic, grade 8
Chris Korda: King Middle, grade 7
Harper Lewis: Lincoln Middle, grade 6
Anissa Murgo: McNeal Elementary, grade 4
Pankti Parikh: Johnson Middle, grade 6
Taylor Wehmeyer: Haile Middle, grade 7