“Dodecarchy” means a government of 12 people. Spelling it correctly means that River Forest’s Rose Sloan is going to the seat of American government in Washington, D.C. in two months. Sloan, a seventh grader at Roosevelt Middle School, outlasted 20 fellow contestants through 17 rounds at the College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, March 7. Her next stop is the National Spelling Bee in Washington on May 30-31.

Sloan’s mom, Mauryne sat nervously in the audience last Wednesday evening with Rose’s dad, Bob, and her sister, Emma, a fourth-grader at Lincoln School. She admits she watched her daughter with a sense of helplessness.

“I couldn’t spell the word. I couldn’t tell if she had it right,” she said.

Sloan’s mom may not have been feeling “smarter than a seventh-grader,” so to speak, but her daughter knew she had it.

“Once I actually heard the word used, I was pretty confident I knew it,” she said. Sloan then spelled “macropterous,” which everyone knows, of course, is a “large-winged or large-finned something-or-other,” for the win.

It’s all pretty heady stuff for someone who didn’t think she’d win her own school’s seventh grade spelling bee.

“I didn’t expect to win,” Sloan admitted. “And I kept expecting not to win.”

She doesn’t think she’ll win in Washington, either. But after winning her school, county and regional spelling bees, she feels she’ll do pretty well next month.

“I think I have a chance of getting fairly far,” she said, noting that the Chicago area bee had one of the stronger fields in the competition.

So how is she going to prepare for her big date in our nation’s capitol?

“I’m going to study a lot of words,” she said.

-Bill Dwyer

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