Augusta-area spelling bee champion Rachael Cundey returns to Washington, D.C., today for her second shot at spelling glory in the National Spelling Bee.
Last year, 10-year-old Rachael was one of the youngest spellers in the contest and failed to make it past the preliminary rounds.
A year older and wiser, the rising sixth-grader at Lakeside Middle School believes her odds are improved.
"I think I have a better chance this year, because I'm more prepared and know what it's going to be like," she said.
Rachael started getting ready for this year's bee soon after last year's concluded.
"I've been studying the patterns of different languages of origin and words provided by the Spelling Bee," said the former South Columbia Elementary pupil. "What I'm studying is the different sounds, like an 'A' sound (in English) might sound different in Greek or French and might be spelled different."
The competition starts Wednesday with a written test. Preliminary spelling rounds will be held Thursday and will be aired live on ESPN3 starting at 1:30 p.m.
ESPN will show the semifinals at 10 a.m. Friday. The finals will air on ABC at 8 p.m. Friday.
Like last year, Rachael said her trip to the nation's capital won't entirely involve spelling.
"On Tuesday, I'm taking a tour of the White House," she said.
During her 2009 trip, Rachael visited the Smithsonian Institution, the American Museum of History, the Natural Museum of History, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and the Library of Congress.
In addition to the White House, Rachael said she hopes to return to the Smithsonian to see the Air and Space Museum as well as Arlington Cemetery and Mount Vernon.
"I'm hoping we'll fit all that in," she said. "I'm not sure."
Still, sightseeing will take a backseat to spelling, she said.
Though unsure of her chances, Rachael said her goal is to make it into the semifinals.
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