Elementary and middle school students will be spelling it out for the county this Saturday.
Fourteen students from three county school districts are to compete in the annual Roosevelt County Spelling Bee.
The winner of the senior division, sixth- through eighth-graders, receives a $500 scholarship to Eastern New Mexico University and a chance to compete at the state level.
Second- through fifth-graders compete in the county junior division, and the winner and runner-up can participate in the senior division if they wish.
“I guess to me the most impressive thing about the bee is some of these kids work really hard to learn words that are really difficult,” said Carol Erwin, bee coordinator.
Erwin said students receive academic benefit from the spelling and have a chance to succeed under a little bit of pressure while still having fun.
“To be able to master the English language, including spelling, opens doors,” she also said.
Portales eighth-grader Mathew Sanchez has won the bee the last two years, and is feeling good about his return this year.
Sanchez said he enjoys the events.
“I like most about it the competition of the spelling bees and really learning new words,” he said. “And this will help me in my future because in the future spelling bees, I have more opportunities to get college scholarships and awards.”
Sanchez said he studies by himself or with a family member. He looks over the words and visualizes their spelling, and studies a dictionary.
From the time he gets the word list about a month before the school bee, Sanchez said, he spends about two hours a week studying. The Portales Junior High School bee was in mid-January.
Sanchez has been studying spelling since fourth grade.
So is he expecting a career in a language field? No, Sanchez said. He thinks he might go to medical school.