Adm. Byrd eighth-grader Alicia Gonzalez emerges as champion

Posted: March 21, 2013

The Winchester Star

ABOVE RIGHT:Alicia Gonzalez, an eighth-grader at Admiral Richard E. Byrd Middle School, who won the bee with the word “prerogative,” is shown with her parents, Fidel and Eva Gonzalez. This is Alicia’s first spelling bee.

WINCHESTER — Over the past year, Alicia Gonzalez stayed after school three times a week for one hour to practice her spelling.

On Wednesday night, Alicia saw what hard work and a dictionary can do as she placed first at The Winchester Star 36th annual Regional Spelling Bee at Daniel Morgan Middle School.

“I’m just trying to let it go through now,” she said after the competition. “I’m really happy.”

Alicia won by spelling “prerogative.” Although she requested the word be repeated a couple of times, the eighth-grader at Admiral Richard E. Byrd Middle School was sure she knew how to spell it.

“It was hard to pronounce,” she said. “But I was pretty confident.”

This is Alicia’s first year participating in the Regional Bee (she didn’t qualify last year). She attended the Frederick County Bee as a fifth-grader but didn’t do well — she said she misspelled the word “bugle” (she added in a “k”) because she failed to ask questions about pronunciation and definition.

“Ever since I was little I liked to spell,” she said. “I liked the way the words went.”

This year, Alicia was determined to win the Regional Bee. She studied lists and dictionaries and had friends quiz her.

Alicia will now advance to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., May 28-30.

Potentially following in Alicia’s footsteps is her 9-year-old brother, Fidel Jr., who attends Evendale Elementary and admits he’s “maybe” a good speller but could get stage fright when the time comes.

“I might get nervous about getting the words wrong,” he said.

Whatever happens in the future, Fidel said that he is happy about his sister’s success.

“I feel, like, pretty excited to go to D.C.” he said.

Alicia’s parents are Fidel and Eva Gonzalez.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at rlayne@winchesterstar.com