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Angelina Holm - 2018 & 2019 State Champion!
 
   

   
 
 
Angelina’s Story:  My journey as a speller began when I was just six years old, in first grade. I started by competing in the class and school spelling bees and realized that spelling and words were interesting. In third grade, I joined my elementary school’s semantics team and studied Spell It! diligently. I surprised myself by doing well in my first interschool spelling bee and wanted to work harder for the next one. At my second interschool bee, I ended up winning! This win was an extremely formative moment in my spelling career. At the City Written Qualifiers in February, I didn’t make the cut; however, this loss motivated me to work harder in the years to come.
In fourth grade, I was ecstatic after winning the first interschool spelling bee. I studied hard for the upcoming interschool bee and City Written. At the second interschool bee of that season, I ended up becoming a co-champion with my fellow speller Ben Holland. Little did we both know, this bee would set a precedent for the rest of our spelling careers. At City Written that year, I passed the test. I continued to surprise myself by getting sixth at the City Orals bee, misspelling ‘phoresy’. Following that bee, I began getting coaching from the DPS Semantics coordinator, Bill Schaefer. At my first Colorado State Spelling Bee, I failed to pass the written test. Like the City Written bee the year before, not making it onstage at state motivated me to study harder for the next year.
In fifth grade, I co-championed with Ben Holland yet again at an interschool bee and won another by myself. At state that year, I was thrilled to learn I made it onstage. I furthered this excitement by finishing in fourth place, misspelling ‘dorado’.
The following year, I moved on to attend Denver School of the Arts. Sixth grade was possibly the most important year in my spelling career. Despite only winning one interschool bee that season, I got fifth at City Orals. At state that year, I made it onstage again. After about four hours of spelling, only two spellers remained: me and Ben Holland. We spelled back and forth for a while until Ben missed ‘Kilroy’. I got the word ‘sphalerite’ and after spelling that correctly, I received my championship word: ‘helminthiasis’. Spelling this word correctly influenced the rest of my spelling career greatly.
After winning state, I started to gear up for the National Spelling Bee. After months of studying, it was time to leave for National Harbor and the Scripps National Spelling Bee. National Harbor was full of new sights, sounds, people, and experiences. After a welcoming picnic on Monday, it was time for the written test. After completing the written test, I had a round of onstage spelling. The stage at Nationals is so different from the stage in any other bee; there were cameras clicking between every letter I spelled, a timer, and a huge audience behind the judging table. The next day, I had to spell onstage again. The results of the written test and list announcement of semifinalists would come later that day. Unfortunately, I didn’t make the cut for the semifinals, finishing in 42nd place. Naturally, I was shattered, but I didn’t let my defeat that year influence my season the next year.
Seventh grade brought new spelling challenges. I won one interschool spelling bee and got seventh place at City Orals. Once again, it was time for the State Spelling Bee. I was feeling pressure mostly from myself to win again, simply because I had won the year before. Eventually, I had to push my nerves aside and focus on the bee in front of me. In the end, a little nerves did me good; I reclaimed my title as Colorado State Spelling Bee champion, with (guess who!) Ben Holland finishing as runner-up again. The slight familiarity from the year before made Nationals less nerve-wracking. I finished better than I had the year before, being only a few points off of the semifinals and finishing with one of the 100 top scores in the world. Once again, I was extremely disappointed, but I continued to look forward to my final year of competition.
In the end, eighth grade ended up being anticlimactic, due to reasons nobody could control. I had an undefeated season, winning both interschool bees, missing only three words at City Written, and winning City Orals. I headed to the State Spelling Bee for the final time feeling confident but not arrogant. Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic struck and I was left stranded without a state or national bee for a while. Luckily, SpellPundit announced that they were holding a virtual national spelling bee. This gave me fresh motivation to finish my spelling career, and I ended up finally making the semifinals!
To finish, I would like to thank everyone who supported me through the highs and lows of my spelling career: the late Bill Schaefer, Heather Wise, Carter Ottele, Jacob benEzra, Himanvi Kopuri, Bryn Flanigan, and needless to say, my parents. I am also grateful for the Denver Post for providing both sponsorship for the State Spelling Bee and an amazing opportunity for young spellers all across Colorado. 

 

 
  



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