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Carson fifth in Nevada State Spelling Bee

Susie Vasquez, Appeal Staff Writer

Wen Hui Tan was all smiles after winning the State Spelling Bee at the University of Nevada, Reno, Saturday. The title came after she successfully spelled “glossolalia,” edging out Nathaniel Baria, a sixth-grader from Home Schools United in Vegas Valley.

An eighth-grader at Bob Miller Middle School in Las Vegas, Wen Hui credits her win to a lot of studying.

“I study all the time,” she said with animation. “And I read a lot.”

Born in Malaysia, Wen Hui moved first to Michigan when she was about 10 months old and has lived in Las Vegas about four years. Father Keah Choon Tan is originally from Malaysia and teaches business management at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. Mother Shan Yun Chiu is originally from Taiwan. The proud parents said Wen Hui also speaks a little Chinese.

“Just enough to get by,” Dad said with a smile.

Forty-four Nevada students from the sixth, seventh and eighth grades matched wits and talents in this competition, which had no shortage of star players.

Douglas County’s Annie Austin handled defeat with grace and an easy smile when she misspelled “grandeur” in the final rounds of the competition. Cade Willes, a sturdy, red-headed seventh-grader from White Pine County made it easily into the final rounds but stumbled on “euphonius,” and John Russell, an easy-going seventh-grader from Eureka County School District handled defeat beautifully, coming in third.

Joshua Gansberg, who attends Bethlehem Lutheran School in Carson City, came in fifth. He attributes his success to a lot of studying, and help from God.

“I feel good,” he said. “Last year I was 17th, so I’ve moved up and I still have one more year to compete.”

Brother Matthew Cunningham, Pastoral Center Superintendent of Schools for the Catholic Church and pronouncer for the competition, said this is a chance for these kids to show their stuff.

“This is a real talent, a gift,” he said. “This competition is their opportunity.”

The most difficult aspect, according to Cunningham, comes when participants are asked to spell words they’ve never heard, or don’t understand.

The state spelling bee was the preliminary competition to determine Nevada’s representative at the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, to be held in Washington, D.C. in late May.

Each of the top 10 finalists received a trophy. The first-place winner also received the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award, a $100 savings bond. Expenses for the trip to Washington for Wen Hui and her guardian will be paid by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, who sponsored the competition.

Ten finalists and their positions:

First: Wen Hui Tan, eighth grade – Clark County

Second: Nathaniel Baria, sixth grade – Home Schools United, Vegas Valley

Third: John Russell, seventh grade, Eureka County School District

Fourth: Erica Warwick, eighth grade, Elko County

Fifth: Joshua Gansberg, seventh grade, Carson City School District

Sixth: Shankari Rajagopal, sixth grade, Churchill County School District

Seventh: Skyler Campbell, sixth grade, Washoe County School District

Eighth: Arianna Bennett, eighth grade, Washoe County School District

Ninth: Cade Willes, seventh grade, White Pine County

Tenth: Noel Whipple, eighth grade, Humboldt County

Glossary

— glossolalia — incomprehensible speak sometimes occurring during a hypnotic trance or during religious ecstasy.

— euphonius — characterized by euphony, which means to have a pleasant sound or harmonious.