Dezhane Brown won it for Woodington Middle School.
“I knew it was my last year here and I wanted to leave knowing I’d done something,” the 14-year-old eighth-grader said recently.
What she did was win LCPS’s county spelling bee – a win made sweeter by the fact that she’d tried before and fell short. She won the contest – held last month for students in grades three through eight – on the word “discriminate.”
A perennial winner of grade-level spelling bees at her schools, Dezhane represented Woodington in the countywide contest as a sixth grader, but finished third.
“The other time I was really, really nervous,” she remembered. “This time I was confident. I really wanted to win because my school was depending on me.”
Woodington was, according to Jean Whaley, the media coordinator there and Dezhane’s coach. “We wanted to push her a little bit, but we knew she could do it,” Whaley said. “This is an area where she demands excellence out of herself.”
Dezhane has a feel for spelling – “I break down a word and see if it sounds right to me,” she said – but she also puts in the hours that makes a naturally good speller a champion. “Me and my mom play spelling games,” she said. “She’ll look in the dictionary and we’ll try to spell words we’ve never spelled before. If we get it wrong, we just keep studying it.”
She is a daughter of Kaleema Brown and Dana Kearney.
Her brother, Titus Graham, 13, “used to be a better speller than me,” she said; but her study habits closed that gap. “When I study, I make sure I do it over a long period of time, everyday at this time. After I won (at Woodington) I started studying everyday.”
As county champ, Dezhane was awarded a certificate and a tall trophy. The trophy is in her room at home, a reminder that effort is rewarded. “I don’t look at it a lot,” she said, “but when I do I know I won the spelling bee.”
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