Hard to find the words

Rachael Cundey's regional bee streak spells 'determination'

Just a word of caution to our friends at the Scripps National Spelling Bee: Before the national bee the last week of May in D.C., you better run out and stock up on some more words.

Rachael Cundey is on the prowl.

The Lakeside Middle School student on Saturday won her fifth annual Scripps Regional Bee and her fifth trip to the national event, an all-expense paid expedition provided by The Augusta Chronicle.

In the end, the word caller at Saturday’s bee here nearly couldn’t find the words: Cundey and two other sharp spellers rose from the pack of 15 – Gary Hosier (CSRA Home Education Association) and Varsha Menon (Augusta Preparatory Day School) – and wore out the dictionary through 10 rounds of head-to-head battle before Cundey won with “obedientiary” (defined by Merriam-Webster as “one owing or yielding obedience: subject; one of the minor officials in a medieval monastery appointed by the abbot.”)

This is her last go-round: The bee is open to those who have neither finished eighth grade nor turned 16, and she’s out on both counts after this year. But here’s hoping it’s her best year. That would put her back in rarefied air: She tied for 10th out of 300 at last year’s national bee.

And a word of caution to her competitors: We don’t know about you, but Rachael’s been living with her word lists just about every waking moment, and probably some sleeping ones, since last year’s national contest.

That’s being on the P-R-O-W-L, prowl.

So the Cundeys will be enjoying our nation’s capital yet again, and we trust they’re not tired of it yet. Bee week is not to bee missed: There’s the sightseeing, of course, and exciting bee-related events before the competition gets heated. In fact, the finish is televised live in prime time on ESPN.

Back home, plenty of Augusta-area spellers’ parents will be relieved when Rachael graduates to high school and gives their kids a chance!

Rachael, we couldn’t be prouder of you.

In fact, it’s hard to find the words.

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