Johnson, who was last year’s Henry County spelling bee champion, reclaimed her title last month and is knee-deep in preparation for the upcoming district competition.
The District 5 regional competition, to be held on Feb. 23, will be at Mundy Mill Middle, 1251 Mundy’s Mill Road in Jonesboro.
Johnson hopes for a better performance than last year’s district competition, which she was eliminated from in early rounds.
For her, nerves had a lot to do with her loss.
“I lost last year for rushing,” she said. “But from what I heard last year, the words are not too challenging.”
Johnson, however, in order to place in spelling bees does not extensively prepare in advance.
“I am actually not so good in that respect, because I really don’t study in advance, against my better judgment,” she said. “I crammed just a few minutes before the county spelling bee began this year.”
Johnson added that she loves spelling bees for the overall experience.
“My favorite aspects of spelling bees are the chances to learn new words and be challenged, and the recognition, to be honest,” she said. “The prize money isn’t bad either.”
But her reason for participating and excelling can be contributed to a love of hers — reading.
“As I’ve always loved reading, I’ve always been a rather proficient speller and had a relatively large vocabulary” she said. “I just decided that I might as well showcase my skills.”
Learning as many words as possible and reading as much literature as possible are the two ways that she ensures her spelling bee success.
When she comes across words she has never encountered before, her reaction is simple.
“I make sure that whenever I am met with an unfamiliar word, I learn how to spell it,” she said. “Sometimes, I come up with ways to remember the spelling of a word through similar words and clusters of letters.”
She even has a favorite word: obstinate.
“I won the first spelling bee that qualified me for county with that word,” she said. “I was really overjoyed when I got it, for I had just learned it from a book, ‘The Invention of Hugo Cabret’ by Brian Selznick.”