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'A special moment': Millard 11-year-old headed to Scripps National Spelling Bee

Posted at 10:53 PM, May 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-26 23:53:36-04

MILLARD, Neb. (KMTV) — 11-year-old Sarah Fernandes commits herself fully to everything she does. She has played piano at several well-known venues, including Carnegie Hall.

From piano, to math, or reading, Sarah has a passion for learning.

"My all-time favorite word is like (the) longest word, pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis," Sarah said.

One of her many talents is spelling. Yes, she spelled that word for Reporter Molly Hudson.
This weekend she is one of several hundred students, headed to Washington, D.C. for the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

"Those are all people I have watched so many times on tv and then I will be up there to spell, so that will be so special," Sarah said.

Sarah's first spelling bee was when she was in the fourth grade, but it was this year, as a fifth grader, that she qualified for the national bee.

"My favorite part is going up on that stage, to receive my spelling word, because it feels like such a big thing to stand in front of all those people and it is just such a special moment," Sarah said.

The spelling bee bug runs in the family.

"My sister Hannah, she has been to the nationals twice and she has won the Metro Bee five consecutive times," said Sarah.

She says her sister is an inspiration and she has spent hours studying. "Maybe a couple (of) hours, it varies day to day," Sarah said.

She's reviewed all the Scripps materials, quickly moving through the list of words, ahead of the big competition.

"The unabridged dictionary, words of the champions, that's the study list, and the prefixes and suffixes table," Sarah said.

But for Sarah, it's finding the balance between all of her passions as she is taking her dedication to practicing piano to the Scripps National Spelling Bee stage.

"We know the saying, practice makes perfect, and I think that is the same exact thing in spelling because if you study a lot you can become a better speller," Sarah said.

To learn more about Sarah, especially her background playing piano, you can visit her website

If you're interested in watching the Scripps Spelling Bee, you can stream it on ION Network, Cox Channel 57.
The Preliminaries are on Tuesday, May 30th. Wednesday, May 31st, is the quarterfinals streaming only and the semifinals are the same day.
Then, Thursday June 1 is the final.

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