14-year-old from Wabasha to compete in Scripps National Spelling Bee

Sam Passe
Sam Passe(KTTC)
Published: May. 25, 2022 at 5:55 PM CDT
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WABASHA, Minn. (KTTC) – Since 1925, kids across the country have competed in spelling bees with the hopes of competing with the best of the best in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

This year, a 14-year-old from Wabasha made it to the national competition and is taking off Memorial Day weekend for Washington D.C.

The speller, Sam Passe, started participating in spelling bees in fourth grade when his school held its own.

“I don’t know, I just really liked it, and I was pretty good at it, so I’ve just been doing it ever since then,” he said.

Just this year, Sam participated in his school’s spelling bee, the Rochester spelling bee and the regional spelling bee, and took home first place in every competition.

“They’re fun, and you can learn new stuff from them. You can like expand your vocabulary,” he said.

Although Sam didn’t get into spelling bees until he was nine years old, his family encouraged Sam and his siblings to read books to expand his vocabulary.

“We’ve always encouraged reading when we’re in the car driving places instead of having like a video on, the kids will bring their books or audiobook or something like that,” Sam’s mom Paula Passe said.

More than 200 kids ages 9-14 will be competing in the National Spelling Bee.

“I’m excited to go there, but I’m not really excited to do the actual spelling bee. I’m kind of nervous about the spelling bee part,” Sam said.

Sam’s practicing process is extensive, trying to memorize not only the spelling but also the meaning and country of origin of a word.

“I find the pronunciation and write it down three or four times and I write the definition, I write like a summarized definition, next to it. I’ve done that for all these words,” Sam said.

Although Sam hopes to make it to the finals, his family says the experience of making it to the competition is a win in itself.

“I just think this will be an experience that he always remembers. Everyone knows about the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and to be able to say you were a finalist and got to actually go to the Scripps National Spelling Bee I think will be a really great thing for him to have as a life experience,” Paula said.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee officially starts Tuesday, May 31 with the preliminaries, and the finals round will be on Thursday, June 2.

You can learn where to watch the spelling bee here.

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