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Someone You Should Know: 7-year-old boy trailblazing his way to National Spelling Bee

Published: May. 19, 2022 at 8:21 AM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - At 7 years old, Nam Nguyen won the state-level competition of the Scripps Spelling Bee at the University of South Dakota.

Nam was the youngest speller in the competition being in second grade.

“I’ve had Nam in my class this year who is an excellent student, all-around excellent student. He’s been a joy to have in here and excited, I think the first time we’ve had a second-grader go all the way for state and then on for Nationals,” said second grade teacher Paddy Rosdail.

He is about to embark on a fully sponsored trip to Washington D.C. to compete in the 94th Scripps National Spelling Bee.

There has never been a national winner from South Dakota.

“He’s just one of those that knows things, he has great background knowledge, he knows how to apply things, he’s a great thinker,” said Rosdail.

Nam’s parents are from Vietnam and he is a first-generation American.

He helps his parents with pronouncing words while studying for spelling bees.

“His first language is English now,” said Nam’s father Dinh Nguyen.

“He can remember for maybe 3 or 4 months, he never forgets,” said Nguyen.

It is a full family effort to help Nam practice and learn hundreds of words in short time periods.

“We have many ways to help him to study in preparing for the spelling bee. The traditional one is I read him the new word, and he looks through maybe one or two times. And then we close the books, and we play the game with him. Like, ‘this word has how many letters?,’” said Nguyen.

His elementary school and all of South Dakota are cheering him on.

“It’s fun to see him so excited about it too, he’s so proud. I decorated his desk when he came back in and he wanted to take home all of the balloons and everything home with him because he was excited about it. He’s a pretty quiet kid most of the time,” said Rosdail.

Nam describes how he feels when he competes and wins competitions.

“Great, excited, good,” said Nam.

His family hopes his younger siblings follow in Nam’s footsteps.

Already making history for his state, Nam will continue to break barriers through his love of words.

“Oh, I see lots of bright things. Scientist, something big. I’ll see his name up or he’s discovered something or done something,” said Rosdail.

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