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Chandler 6th grader prepares for the Scripps National Spelling Bee

Posted at 5:36 PM, May 10, 2023

PHOENIX — Later this month, the best young spellers in the country will meet in Washington D.C. for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

This year, three Arizona students will represent our state: Tazbah Spruhan of Window Rock, Karen Opoku-Appoh of Tucson and Opal Mishra of Chandler.

We hope to catch up with all three eventually, but on Wednesday Opal sat down with us as she prepares for the Super Bowl of spelling.

Walking to band class where she plays clarinet, 12-year-old Opal Mishra is on her way to greatness.

”Like I have to study a lot,” said Mishra.

Her favorite subject is math and when she grows up she plans to be a doctor.

For the next few days, she’s focused on learning to spell as many words as she can from the unabridged dictionary.

“It gets like harder as the words get longer,” she said.

On May 30, she’ll be one of three students from Arizona competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

To qualify to spell at the top level, Opal had to win the spelling bee in her class, then her school, then among the top two for her regional bee, and then the state level where she came in second.

This year is her first time in competitive spelling.

You can say Opal is, I-N-T-E-L-L-I-G-I-B-L-E, a word that she spelled with ease.

Intelligible was the winning word in the 1935 Scripps Spelling Bee.

We pulled up that list of winning words and Opal seamlessly spelled tough words like chihuahua, croissant, and chlorophyll.

Without hesitation, Opal spelled chlorophyll saying she, “just learned it in science.”

She says she studies for 2-3 hours a night, reading the unabridged dictionary and having her parents quiz her.

Her advice to aspiring spellers is to ask the definition, then the country of origin of the word, and one more thing... “You have to work like really hard,” she said.