Hard work for young Symmes Valley girl brings V-I-C-T-O-R-Y

Published 12:00 am Saturday, June 3, 2006

As an even younger child than she is, sixth grader Leah Webb would sit, glued in front of the television, as she watched the national spelling bee every year.

“I would try and spell the words,” Leah said. “I usually couldn’t though, I was really little … but I tried.”

No, this isn’t the story of a phenom, able to spell antidisestablishmentarianism since birth. Leah’s is the story of a little girl willing to work, which just paid off with a win at the Lawrence County Spelling Bee.

Email newsletter signup

At the beginning of bee season, students are issued a study guide full of words students should learn the ins-and-outs of, a book, which Leah promptly lost. Needless to say, things had not gotten off to a g-r-e-a-t start.

“I lost it, so I was really nervous, but my best friend Katie Smith, she let me use hers,” Leah said.

With the book in hand, Leah could then begin her work in earnest. The sixth grader took the top spot in her glass, then her grade, before coming toe-to-toe with one last opponent in the school bee.

In a classic case of no good deed going unpunished, that final foe was Katie Smith.

“I didn’t want to beat her, but I wanted to win so bad,” Leah said, slightly sheepishly. “It was awful.”

Leah reports that Katie, a talented speller who also traveled to the county bee and took fourth place, is OK with everything.

But Leah wasn’t happy with just being the best speller in the Symmes Valley school district, she had her eyes set on being all-county, a feat that would require her outspelling students two years her senior.

That, she decided, would take some work.

“I would just sit and read the dictionary and look at the words,” Leah said. “I would read everyday, and then in my free time in class.”

Leah admits that her other grades took a small hit while she spent most of her time with her nose in Webster’s, something she has since rectified. But it’s easy to imagine that she would let a couple of other things fall by the wayside, as she describes her winning strategy.

“You definitely have to have a love for it, you have to be dedicated to it,” Leah said.

Whatever her methods, the passion paid off. Leah Webb was named the best speller in the county, thanks to a word that was especially appropriate considering the efforts of a young girl who was willing to work herself to the bone for her dream.