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KTNV 13 Action News

12-year-old Las Vegas girl excited to head to Scripps National Spelling Bee

By Tricia Kean,


More than 200 young contestants from across the country are in the Washington, D.C. area this week for the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. Two of them are proud to be representing Nevada.

Anchor Tricia Kean had a chance to meet them both.

"May I have the language of origin?" asked 12-year-old Sarina.


Sarina is hard at work. The 7th grader from Omar Haikal Islamic Academy near East Warm Springs and Bermuda roads, is studying as much as possible for the upcoming national competition.

"Semaphore, 'S-E-M-A-P-H-O-R-E', Semaphore," Sarina said.

She believes reading is what makes her a strong speller. However, she's taking other steps to make sure she's ready.

"How are you preparing for the Scripps National Spelling Bee?" Tricia asked.

"I'm learning rules, trying to work on other languages. The language of origin often helps, and occasionally the definition helps too because it can provide some clues as to where the word comes from and the spelling of it," Sarina said.

"How are you feeling going into this?" Tricia asked.

"I'm feeling nervous, but also really excited," she said. "I can't wait to see what it's going to be like."

To help her relax, Sarina enjoys painting.

"When you start painting and you have all these things lined up in front of you and you make a mess and it turns out good, it just feels very satisfying," she said.

She's also a big gamer. She likes chess, the Rubik's cube and board games with the family. Sarina knows she needs to stay sharp, considering one day, she hopes to be a pediatric neurologist.

"She has been really good in spelling since she was in kindergarten," said Sarina's mother, Summaya Khan.


Sarina's parents feel like she has as much chance of winning the Scripps Spelling Bee as anyone else. Each of them are taking a different approach. Dad is calm and collected.

"I just want her to do the best she can do. I'm proud of her that she's, you know, made it this far," said Syed Ali.

Mom, on the other hand, is a little nervous.

"I will be very stressed that day that she will do it. But yeah, I'll just tell her a lot of instructions. Do this, do this, do this. Remember this, remember this. Do that well, and like all the things. I know I'm going to be really stressing her out," Khan said.

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