Queen bee

Junior becomes a perfect speller and sees the benefits


Juniors (left to right) Manprit Kaur, Mang Dim, and Evelyn Garcia received first place in a Spell Bowl competition at Purdue University. photo contributed by Mang Dim

With eight out of nine words spelled correctly so far, the girl who made a last minute decision to join the Spell Bowl team finds herself one word away from a perfect score. Junior Mang Dim takes a minute to pause before the word “intrepidity” is announced as her final word. The eight out of nine easily becomes a nine out of nine. 

“Adler fistbumped me. The others …, they started screaming my name,” Dim said.

With this only being Dim’s third year in her entire academic career of being on the Spell Bowl team, and the first year where she is in high school, she is a perfect speller. 

Dim’s spelling career began in fifth grade when she was asked to join. Just a few years later, in seventh grade, she found herself joining the team again.

Now this year, with more knowledge and a lot more practice than when she was younger, Dim spelled all of her nine words perfectly in the team’s area competition that determined if they went to state or not.  Dim contributed to the 65 out of 90 words spelled correctly. This achievement led the team to place ninth in the entire state out of 125 schools.

The key to placing high in such a pressure-filled, all-eyes-on-you competition is practice. Twice a week, practices are held on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 p.m. and conclude about 45 minutes later.

“There’s a packet of words that they’re supposed to study off of that we get back in May (with) about 2,000 words on the list,” said Math teacher and co-Spell Bowl coach Jason Adler. “We’ll kind of go through that throughout the course of the first six to eight weeks. After that, we’ll mix it up and go through capitalized words or hyphenated words.” 

While Dim currently sticks to the method of practice that the high school spell bowl team uses, she said sometimes she’ll refer back to the way that she first learned, looking over a packet of words and spelling each word three times over before taking a quiz. 

With everybody else celebrating and ecstatic that Dim played a part in qualifying the team for state, Dim says that the words given to her were just “luck”.

“I wasn’t really prepared,” Dim said. “I just got lucky with the words that I got. I’m very thankful for that.”

When Dim first joined the school’s Spell Bowl team as a last minute participant, she wasn’t alone. Dim made the choice to be on the team with her very close middle school friend junior Manprit Kaur. The two made the then team of eight complete by becoming a team of 10.

The best friend duo would quiz each other on their words whenever they had the freetime, that being after practice or on the bus rides to their competitions.

Kaur has seen Spell Bowl change Dim in a good way. The once quiet girl has turned into a social butterfly and gained confidence since becoming a perfect speller.

“When we first got close in ninth grade, she was very antisocial,” Kaur said “She was the type of person that I’m kinda scared of, like silently judgemental. I feel like I kinda rubbed off on her like she did on me.”

When Dim first came in, she was a little unsure of herself. Becoming a perfect speller in the state competition really boosted her self-confidence, and she believed in herself more than when she first joined.

However, Kaur isn’t the only one that has noticed Dim becoming more open. Adler says that Dim has built her confidence since she joined the team. 

“I was very proud of her,” Adler said. “A lot of students come in feeling like they don’t belong or they’re not as good as everyone around them. For her to come in and see success right away and really help the team out, hopefully that gives her confidence to come back and do it again next year.”