By RAY QUIROGA
Port Isabel-South Padre PRESS
The intellect of a Rhodes Scholar, the focus of a crack marksman and the discipline of a blue chip athlete — that’s what it takes to compete at the highest level in the world of scholastic spelling bees, and that describes Port Isabel Junior High School student Michael Bernard.
After battling the competition at the local level, Bernard was fast on his way to regionals which was held this past weekend. A victory there would mean a trip to Washington, D.C. for the famous Scrippts National Spelling Bee.
According to Cindy Denny, Bernard’s spelling coach and campus librarian, Bernard first competed against fellow PI-ISD students, three from each grade level beginning with third grade through eighth.
At Regionals, which was held at South Texas College in Weslaco, Bernard faced upwards of 54 students, primarily from the Valley.
In the end, Bernard didn’t advance to Washington, but that minor setback has done nothing to stunt his remarkable confidence.
“I don’t really get nervous,” Bernard said prior to the completion. “The hardest part about it is just trying not to get mixed up with the words, like the ending, the suffixes and all that.”
When asked why he’s such a talented speller, Bernard said that he’s always had an interest with words, writing and storytelling. Barely in junior high, Bernard is also learning Latin, a discipline that has greatly helped him as a speller.
Denny explained Bernard’s ability a tad differently. “He’s a natural,” she said. “While most of us have to write it down to spell it, he does it in his head.”
Bernard went on to say that his future goals include attending St. Edward’s University in Austin, adding that he’s interested in studying politics and law.
At regionals this past Saturday, Michael was eliminated in the fifth round and finished among the top 20 students. Only 12 students advanced to the sixth round.
Read this story in the March 7 edition of the Port Isabel-South Padre Press, or subscribe to our E-Edition by clicking here.