A fifth-grade student went up against middle schoolers to win the 76th Annual Miami Herald Spelling Bee in Broward County on Tuesday.
Kyla Truong, 11, won the competition after eight rounds with the word “scrivener.” She stood on the stage mostly stunned after clinching first place, giving a little smile and pushing back her straight brown hair.
“I always wanted to be good at something like spelling since it’s so difficult,” Kyla said.
The Pine Crest School student now heads to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. She’ll join Vasundara Govindarajan, a 12-year old sixth-grade student at Archimedean Academy who won the Miami-Dade County bee on March 8 with the word “epulation” – meaning “feasting” or “banqueting.”
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Kyla said she was inspired to come out on top by her cousin, who placed in the tournament a few years ago. Kyla said she memorized sound patterns based on word origins to help her win, but admitted: “It’s also a lot of guess work.”
Her father, Ngoc-Tien Truong, declared himself “ecstatic” and said he only pushed Kyla so far in her studying.
“I encouraged her, but I let her decide for herself,” he said.
The ambitious student didn’t have much time to celebrate. Kyla had to hurry out of the bee to join her classmates for a science presentation.
Michelle Duboy of St. Mark Catholic School placed second and Zachary Hardgrave of NSU University School placed third.
“It was a lot of hard work, but it paid off for him. Long hours of studying,” said Zachary’s mom, Gina.