Brent Henderson loves playing Super Smash Bros. on the Wii. But unlike most boys his age, Brent has developed the ability of multi-tasking. While he is playing the video game, his parents are sitting across the room giving him words to spell.
Brent Henderson loves playing Super Smash Bros. on the Wii.
But unlike most boys his age, Brent has developed the ability of multi-tasking. While he is playing the video game, his parents are sitting across the room giving him words to spell.
“Sometimes when I get angry, my parents aren’t sure if I am angry at missing the word or angry at messing up in the game,” he said.
Brent, a seventh-grader at Moreland Ridge Middle School in Blue Springs, Mo., is the 2008 Jackson County Spelling Bee winner and leaves today for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. A first-timer at the national bee, he said he is excited about the opportunity to compete.
“It has always been a goal of mine to make it,” he said. “I thought it would be amazing to have this chance, and now I have made it.”
Brent does not study words by reading them. His father, Don Henderson, said if he was forced to sit and “study,” Brent probably never would. So instead, Brent’s parents quiz him, usually daily. Sometimes it is during a game of Yahtzee, while other times it is in the car on the way to a soccer game.
But wherever the family is, there is usually a dictionary and a word list out.
“I am really glad that he has gotten this great reward,” Don Henderson said. “He has put in a lot of hard work, and it is gratifying to see him reach his goal.”
Brent said since the Jackson County Spelling Bee, he has been focusing on more than just the words.
“I have studying different things like the roots, languages of origin and other spelling rules,” he said. “At nationals, you don’t know what words you are going to get. So by studying these kinds of things, I can ask the information when I get a word and figure out the spelling based on those rules.”
The bee begins Monday with the written test. Spellers will spell 50 words using a computer keyboard. The test has no time limit, and only 25 of the 50 words will count toward a speller’s preliminary score.
The first oral round begins Thursday. The quarterfinals will begin at 1 p.m. Central time and will be shown live on ESPN360.com. The semi-final rounds begin at 10 a.m. central time Friday and will be shown live on ESPN.
The finals are at 7 p.m. Friday and are shown live on ABC.
“I have not set a specific goal for myself,” Brent said. “I would like to make it past the written round because two-thirds (of the spellers) do not even make it past that. It would be nice to also make it on TV.”
Don Henderson said he is impressed with the amount of work his son has put into studying the past few months. He said the number of new words he has learned is impressive.
“The last couple of months he has certainly learned a lot more about the different languages of origin,” he said. “His ability to spell words he doesn’t know has also become greater than even since the Jackson County Spelling Bee.”
Although Brent said he plans on doing some studying in Washington, D.C., he said he is also excited to have the opportunity to meet the different spellers.
“I am going to study some, but not as much as here because there are lots of different activities,” he said. “I am eager to start exploring everything there and meeting all the other spellers. It is just such an exciting chance to be there.”