Mrs. Chong remembers asking Jenna after winning the school bee what she wanted to do with the new regional bee word list she was given. Did we want to learn it leisurely or seriously? Choosing the latter came at a price: studying diligently without excuse, a lonely journey. Jenna thought about it and decided that she wanted to go to Washington, DC.
Thus began a family-wide spelling journey. They began practicing over 1,000 words. Joel, her brother, was instrumental in practicing with her. Sometimes Jenna was just not in the mood and Joel would ask her to spell, and I heard things like “You must practice,” “You must win,” “Jo, stop being so bossy,” and of course the ever useful “Mommmmmy!”
In the intense competition there was a high level of sportsmanship among the spellers. “We were most thankful and touched by the support shown by the school community, so it wasn’t as lonely a journey as we thought, “ says Mrs. Chong. Mrs. Schram loaned us Jansen’s materials, Miss Martin was there, with good luck notes from Jenna’s fellow classmates. Surprise phone calls from Mrs. Spiva and Mrs. Sweeney were like topping the sweetest cherry to the cake.
After 56 minutes, only three students were in the running: Jenna, Pranav Jothi of Sandusky Middle School and Eujine Kim of Dunbar. The trio competed against each other for 50 speedy rounds, advancing through words such as maelstrom, lederhosen, gestalt, kovsh, alcazar, peccadillo, asthmogenic, sauerbraten, lokshen and anschluss. On the 300th word, Jenna Ng claimed victory by spelling “version” correctly.