An Oro-Medonte youth is preparing to compete in the Canada Spelling Bee competition this Saturday in Ottawa.
From Kindergarten to Grade 3, David Quest attended Guthrie Public School in Oro-Medonte. In November 2021, the 10-year-old took an Otis-Lennon School Ability Test, where he earned “gifted” status. Now, he attends Codrington Public School in Barrie where he is in the Grade 4/5 gifted class.
Quest became interested in competing in spelling bees last year after learning about the National Spelling Bee Championship.
“I became interested in it last year when the school announced that there would be a spelling competition and the top 3 would go to Ottawa,” he told OrilliaMatters. “I wanted to try my chance.”
Quest has had a passion for reading books in both English and French since he was young; that has helped give him the confidence to compete in spelling bees.
“As a child, I used to play Scrabble with my dad and my brother, and then learned to pay attention to the way the words are written," he explained.
Quest has also been inspired by his 13-year-old brother Joshua, who finished in first place during the Intermediate Debate in the Simcoe County School Team Competition last week.
The Canada Spelling Bee competition finals will be the first time Quest has participated in such a competition, but he is preparing like a seasoned veteran.
“I printed all my selected words and cut them out separately into flashcards,” he explained. “Then, I selected the easy, the hard, and the very hard words to spell. I practise all of them, starting with the difficult ones.”
Quest also uses the Merriam-Webster Dictionary to practise, which is the official dictionary of the competition. To relax, he plays chess online, or basketball outdoors with his brother and friends.
“I hope that the practice will reward me during the competition,” he said.
Quest hopes to win the first prize in the Canada National Spelling Bee Championship. A successful consolation prize for him would be finishing in the top 10. The overall goal is to be invited to participate in the International Spelling Bee Championship in the United States in July.
Quest will be competing against 67 other spellers from all across Canada.
“I believe that if I really focus and avoid silly mistakes, I can advance through all the elimination rounds,” he said. “I feel ready, even if I am one of the youngest competitors.”
Quest hopes that his appearance at the competition will inspire other young people to try something new and educational.
“Competing in spelling competitions motivates me to master English, empowers me, and boosts my confidence,” he said. “It gives me a unique experience of competing, travelling, and learning that is truly enriching and memorable.”
Quest thanks his mother, father, and brother for helping to mentor and coach him through his first competition.
“They have been such a great help to me, and I would not be prepared at all if they didn't support me,” he said. “My brother has been an inspiration and has also practised with me.”