A Linn County teen is on her way to the biggest stage in spelling after winning a contest against the best spellers in Iowa and Illinois. Next up, is an all-expense paid trip to the national contest later this spring.

13-year-old Edith Dawson, an eight-grader in the Mount Vernon Community School District, won a regional spelling bee that qualifies her to compete in Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Dawson told the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun that she had to spell a total of 15 words correct in order to win a spelling bee in Rock Island, Illinois last month. The clinching word was "prehensile." According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, it means "adapted for seizing or grasping especially by wrapping around" or "gifted with mental grasp or moral or aesthetic perception."

Thanks to winning the regional competition, the Mount Vernon Community School District says Dawson won an all-expense paid trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., along with other prizes, and the sweet trophy below.

Mount Vernon Community School District
Mount Vernon Community School District
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Dawson will be just the second Mt. Vernon student to compete at the national bee, and she's excited and thankful. She told the Mount Vernon-Lisbon Sun,

I really need to thank all of my teachers for helping me. Also, my parents and my little brothers have helped as well. I’m really honored to be representing Mount Vernon. There’s pressure because I’m only the second person to do this, but I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent Mount Vernon in the spelling bee.

Only four Iowans have ever won the national spelling bee, and the last one to do it was in 1946. Here are those winners and the word they spelled to win:

  • 1930 Helen Jensen (albumen)
  • 1932 Dorothy Greenwalk (invulnerable)
  • 1936 Jean Trowbridge (eczema)
  • 1946 John McKinney (semaphore)

Over 200 other regional champs will compete against Dawson in the 94th Scripps National Spelling Bee, which begins on May 31. The semifinals and finals, on June 1 and 2 respectively, will be televised by ION. Best of luck to you, Edith!

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