Spelling “jonquil” secured a second place for Alex Bowers, and that’s good enough.

Alex, a Plato Elementary fourth-grade student, competed against 39 third- and fourth-graders from around the state in the Oklahoma State Pee Wee Spelling Bee in Oklahoma City Saturday.

“We worked really hard,” she said. “My mom helped me practice every day. She would call out words.”

For the second consecutive year, the hard work has paid off. The fourth-grader made it through regionals and went on to the state level last year, but didn’t place. This year was a different story — she took second place.

And for those competing at the Pee Wee level, state competition is where the spelling bee journey ends. Nationals begin with fifth grade, which gives Alex some incentive to take part in the spelling bee next year.

“I like getting up in front of the people,” Alex said. “I get nervous at first, but after a couple of words, I get better.”

She is the daughter of John and Jana Bowers.

Before Alex could go off to state, she had to succeed in several other spelling bees.

First, Plato’s two fourth-grade teachers worked together and compiled a list of spelling words on which their students were tested. From there, four of those classmates were selected to compete in the school’s spelling bee, which Alex won.

At the regional level, competitors had to enter a written test, and then it was on to state, which provided one of the few times the students got up in front of people and took turns spelling words.

Lisa Lawrence, Alex’s teacher, said that this year’s state spelling bee went 26 rounds, which was the most anyone could remember.

“Alex is an avid reader,” Lawrence said. “I think that’s what makes her a good speller.”

Alex said she reads a variety of things from day to day. She said her favorite types of books are mainly adventures, and she has read all the Harry Potter books, her favorite being the fifth installment: “Order of the Phoenix.”

But reading is only one of her favorite pastimes, which also include playing piano and tennis. Reading and spelling are her favorite school subjects.

Alex said reading is part of what made her successful in the state spelling bee. She said her mom helping her to study also attributed to her accomplishment.

Lawrence said she also tried to contribute by giving the student more to read.

“I just provided a lot of books for her to read,” the teacher said. “I haven’t had to do a whole lot because she has that great inner drive.”

With second place in her grasp, along with a Target gift card that came with the rank, Alex said she is satisfied with what she was able to accomplish, especially since she didn’t expect to do so well.

“I was really proud” she said.

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