Reading is the key to good spelling |

Reading is the key to good spelling

Cameron Miranda wants revenge.

The 12-year-old seventh-grader from South Tahoe Middle School is returning to the 20th Annual California Central Valley Spelling Bee for the third straight year with determination to improve on last year’s performance when he finished 24th in the oral examination.

When he was a fifth-grader, Cameron nabbed 12th place in the oral competition which included students from nine counties in grades four through eight.

The avid reader of William Shakespeare and Edgar Allan Poe knows why he placed lower in his second showing.

“I don’t think I studied as much I did last time,” he said in the middle school’s library. “I was a little upset but I was OK. I think I’m going to make it over the top 10. That’s what I’m hoping for.”

The winner of the oral competition goes to Washington, D.C., for the two-day national spelling bee. There is a written examination for the Jan. 18 California spelling bee in Sacramento which doesn’t rank students.

Cameron moved from Rolling Hills Middle School in El Dorado Hills to South Tahoe Middle School last February. David Berne, a sixth-grade language arts teacher and director of El Dorado County’s spring spelling bee, conducted a contest in his classroom last month to find who would go to the Central Valley. He didn’t know Cameron was a ringer.

“Out of 25 words he only missed two: carcinogenic and precipitate,” Berne said.

The second-place winner missed seven words, the teacher added.

Cameron, who holds a 4.0 gpa, said the secret to his word wisdom is reading at an early age.

“I read a lot and I like to read books that are challenging so I can build up my vocabulary,” he said.

His favorites include books such as “Hamlet” and “The Raven” and “Unfinished Tales” by J.R. Tolkien. He has read “Moby Dick,” “MacBeth,” “The Iliad” and “The Odyssey.”

His mother read mythology bedtime stories to Cameron when he was younger.

“He understood what was going on,” Anne Miranda said. “Heroes, myths and legends — kids love that.”

Anne Miranda said she has let Cameron study a vocabulary book on his own but plans on picking some words out Thursday for a little test.

When asked what he sees himself doing in the future, Cameron spoke of his aspirations of being a chef or enlisting in the Navy. This year’s spelling bee could be his last as basketball and cross country are becoming more predominant in his life. Even though he is a master speller, Cameron said the contest holds other benefits, like character building.

“I’m kinda shy and doing something like public speaking helped my getting over my nervousness of speaking to large crowds,” he said.

— Contact William Ferchland at

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