In May 2019, the Scripps National Spelling Bee resulted in an eight-way tie for the first time in the bee’s 92 year history. Thirteen-year-old Whitehouse Station, NJ resident Christopher Serrao was one of eight champions.
Students in grades 3-8 can discover what it’s like to be a spelling bee champion with Serrao and the Somerset County Library System of New Jersey (SCLSNJ) on January 11, at the Bridgewater branch from 2-3 p.m. The three-time national spelling bee participant will connect with Library customers by sharing his spelling bee experience; answering questions from potential spelling bee contenders; and more.
Since 2016 SCLSNJ’s Spelling Bee Spectacular for children in grades K-8 has been hosted at the Somerset County Vocational and Technical High School. The winner of the Library System’s bee, which will be held on March 7 in 2020, is eligible to attend the Scripps National Spelling Bee at the Library System’s expense.
Serrao’s winning word was cernuous, defined by Merriam-Webster “as of a plant: inclining or nodding.” He credits his spelling bee success to an average of 12 hours a week of studying.
Spelling bees are in Serrao’s blood. His spelling bee journey began in 2016 when his sister, Danielle Serrao, was the first student to represent Readington Township at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
“She is a trailblazer; she inspired me and kindled my love for spelling,” said Serrao. “Right after the national finals that year, I made the decision to give competitive spelling a try.”
Serrao was successful in local bees and was selected to compete in Scripps National Spelling Bee in 2017, where he tied for 41st place, and again in 2018, where he tied for 34th place. In 2019, he was one of 562 spellers that competed for the title of spelling bee champion. The unheard of result of an eight-way tie ended with all eight finalists spelling out the dictionary in its entirety.
Although they were in a competition, Serrao made a point to boast about the friendships and connections he made with other contenders.
“I was amazed by the camaraderie amongst the spellers during the competition,” he said. “I have developed several friendships with other competitors.”
Serrao offers some advice to all the spelling bee champion hopefuls out there. “To all the spellers, study consistently and devote time. “Work hard and never give up. As far as spelling goes, learn language patterns and roots and most importantly learn exceptions to rules. English is a language of exceptions. Do your best, enjoy the competitions and the journey!”
Discover what the buzz is about and meet Serrao: sclsnj.libnet.info/event/2849163.
Explore spelling bee inspired reads:
- “Feed Me Words: 40+ Bite-size Stories, Quizzes, and Puzzles to Make Spelling and Word Use Fun!” By Kris Hirschmann.
- “An Inconvenient Alphabet: Ben Franklin & Noah Webster’s Spelling Revolution” by Beth Anderson.
- “Lunchbox Words: 65 Word-Based Notes to Pack in Your Speller’s Lunchbox or Backpack” by Tracey West.
- “The Most Marvelous International Spelling Bee” by Deborah Abela.
- “P is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever” by Raj Haldar.
- “The Stupendously Spectacular Spelling Bee” by Deborah Abela.