CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Gazette-Mail Regional Spelling Bee winner Elizabeth Koh is having a busy couple of weeks.
Last week, she performed in dance and music recitals. On Friday, the 13-year-old graduated from eighth grade at St. Frances de Sales School in Beckley.
On Sunday, she's headed to the nation's capital to compete against 277 students from around the world in the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
This is Elizabeth's second trip to the national bee. She has competed in spelling bees since she was in fourth grade but won her first county bee championship in 2011. She went on to win her first Gazette-Mail Regional Bee championship last year and made a repeat performance in this year's competition.
Elizabeth received an all-expenses-paid trip to the national bee; a $2,500 SMART529 college savings plan through a program of the West Virginia Treasurer's office; the Samuel Louis Sugarman award (a $100 savings bond); a one-year subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica Online; and a Webster's Third New International Dictionary.
The March 17 regional bee was co-sponsored by the West Virginia Housing Development Fund and Lumos Networks and televised by WSAZ's sister station, MyZ TV.
"This is my last bee. I'm so glad I've made it this far," Elizabeth said. "Since I've been doing bees since fourth grade, this is really important to me."
Elizabeth didn't make it past the national bee's preliminary rounds last year -- only 41 of the 275 spellers moved on -- but she's determined to make a better showing this year.
"When I'm not doing what I have to do for school or my other extracurricular activities, I'm trying to study very hard for this bee," she said.
She has pored over lists and dictionaries online and is tackling languages of origin for many words.
"If I don't know the word, I'll be able to use the origins and the definition, information about the word, to help me correctly spell that word. I've been preparing that way, for words I don't know in the bee," she said.