South Junior High School seventh-grader Susan Rockhold credits Mother Nature for her win Saturday at the 2011 Douglas County Spelling Bee.
She was a little behind in studying for the annual event — then came the snow.
Susan spent the entire two snow days she had off from school to work on her spelling bee prep: reading and spelling all day.
“It’s a lot of words I had to study,” she said.
The extra work paid off as she beat out 28 other fifth- through eighth-graders to earn her spot at the Sunflower Spelling Bee in March and a chance to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., in June.
In the ninth and final round, Susan squared off on stage at Southwest Junior High with Raintree Montessori student Seth Peters.
Seth, who also qualifies for the state spelling bee for his runner-up finish, misspelled “contiguous.” Susan ended the hour-long bee by correctly spelling “amarillo,” a type of tree, and finally “shrapnel,” for the win.
“Yes, yes, I won,” said Susan of her immediate thought after uttering the last letter. “I have succeeded.”
The spelling comes somewhat naturally for Susan, who also credits her affection for the written word for her success at the bee.
“I love to read, which really helps my spelling,” she said.
Susan displayed an unassuming demeanor during the event, walking slowly up to the podium and quietly spelling her words. She said she had a few butterflies up on stage but nothing compared to the anxiety her dad, Ed, was experiencing in the audience.
“I was so nervous,” he said.
Susan’s mom, Rebecca, joked about her husband’s face contortions as he wiggled away wishing his daughter along.
It was all worth it, though.
“I’m so proud,” Rebecca said. “I’m just about in tears.”