Sudbury·Audio

Sudbury's Sophia Mathew heads to national spelling bee competition, after regional win

Dozens of youngsters in Sudbury were at home behind their computer screens competing in the Spelling Bee of Canada regional competitions this past weekend — but only one wound up earning a ticket to compete in the association's national event, which will be held later this month.

'I thought I was going to be happy if I even got in third place, because there were so many kids'

Sophia Mathew, a Grade 3 student at Holy Trinity School in Sudbury, recently won the primary division of the regional round of the Spelling Bee of Canada — for the second year in a row. She will compete in the nationals, which will be held online, at the end of November. (Submitted/Kyra Mathew)

Dozens of youngsters in Sudbury were at home behind their computer screens competing in the Spelling Bee of Canada regional competitions this past weekend — but only one wound up earning a ticket to compete in the association's national event, which will be held later this month.

Sophia Mathew, a Grade 3 student at Holy Trinity School, won the primary division, for the second year in a row.

She won after spelling the word "rigorous" correctly.

"It feels great and I'm so impressed with myself," she told Morning North CBC host Markus Schwabe.

"I thought I was going to be happy if I even got in third place, because there were so many kids."

Because of COVID-19, the bee was held online, and the Sudbury district was combined with the Ottawa-Carlton district.  But that didn't stop Sophia from spelling her way to the top.

The eight-year-old says she prefers competing with all the kids in one room, but she quickly adjusted to the online format. While the youngsters waiting for their turn to spell, they were able to play games in the virtual lounge area.

"My favorite part about the waiting was doing a riddle or a charade," she said.

The championship word, "rigorous" was a new one for her, she said. But she spelled it without a hiccup and is now preparing for the national online competition, to be held Nov. 29. 

To hone her spelling skills, Sophia says she "reads lots of books" and practices with her mother.

"I copy the words in my notebook and I also copy them on index cards and then Mama will shuffle them, so I get the feeling of the words being random," she said. "And to practise for the tiebreaker, I write words from a dictionary."

Sophia says her favourite word is "rhombicosidodecahedron", which she says is a 224-sided polyhedron, or geometric shape.

She says she enjoys taking part in spelling bees because "it's a great opportunity to learn new words."

And that curiosity will be beneficial in the future, as she hopes to, one day, become an astronaut.

"My second choice is a teacher. I'm definitely going to need to know how to spell words to be a teacher," she said.

"And my third choice is a doctor, and that also probably includes spelling the names of the medicines."

With files from Markus Schwabe

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