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Virginia boy heading to Scripps National Spelling Bee: 'I didn't think I'd make it this far'

Posted at 7:02 PM, Mar 07, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-08 01:11:25-05

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- One Virginia sixth-grader is preparing for the biggest competition of his life -- the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Andrew Hoehn has been a student at St. Matthew's Catholic School in Virginia Beach since he was in the first grade.

Now a sixth-grader, he's already accomplished so much. First he won his class spelling bee, and then his school spelling bee. After qualifying, he walked away the winner.

"Now it's sunken in that I'm going to the National Spelling Bee," Andrew said.

Andrew practices for at least an hour each day and up to three hours on the weekends. He says he even pulls out his flash cards when he has free time at school.

His parents are his number one supporters and help him study the words. Right now Andrew says his dad is helping him learn the Latin and Greek roots of words, and he is memorizing those.

"Andrew has really put in the time to get himself prepared and all the work that he put in has paid off," Andrew's principal, Louis Goldberg, said. "I think it tells other students the things you can achieve when you put your mind to it."

The humble young man says despite his success so far, it's not all about winning.

"Just being in it -- it's really fun to be in the spelling bee," Andrew said.

Andrew sets high goals and keeps calm under the pressure even if he is a little nervous on the inside.

"I'm proud of myself because I never thought I would make it this far, and so I can't believe I made it this far," he said.

Andrew will compete against other sixth, seventh and eighth-graders from across the country.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee is May 24-29 in Washington D.C.