Brownsville speller ready to vie for national title

BROWNSVILLE — Melanie Mascorro of Harmony Science Academy in Brownsville credits a combination of word study, Spanish grammar and assertiveness for helping her advance to this year’s 90th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

BROWNSVILLE — Melanie Mascorro of Harmony Science Academy in Brownsville credits a combination of word study, Spanish grammar and assertiveness for helping her advance to this year’s 90th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Melanie qualified for the national bee by correctly spelling transept at the Rio Grande Regional Spelling Bee on March 4 in Weslaco. Transepts were part of mediaeval Christian churches, which were made in the shape of a cross to remind people of Jesus’ crucifixion, according to a quatr.us study guide of mediaeval architecture.

The national bee is next week, with the finals on June 1 to be broadcast live on ESPN. Melanie departs Sunday on an all-expenses-paid trip to the contest as the guest of AIM Media Texas, which sponsors the regional bee and owns The Brownsville Herald, The Monitor in McAllen and Valley Morning Star in Harlingen.

When asked how she had won, Melanie matter-of-factly said, “by studying. I use my Spanish to sound out the words. … Sometimes when I don’t really know a word, I ask for a definition or for it to be used in a sentence.”

She said she’s been preparing for the national bee in much the same way, studying with her big sister, Ilse Moscorro, a junior at BrownsvilleEarlyCollegeHigh School. Melanie said she learns words by first learning the definition and then how they’re used in sentences.

“When I’m not very optimistic, she’s the one that tells me I can do it, that I’m going to win,” Melanie said of her sister.

Melanie also said she uses a piece of advice from her grandfather, who told her to take deep breaths when spelling the words she’s given to give her mind more oxygen to think straight.

Melanie won the sixth-grade spelling bee at her school and then the school-wide contest.

“She’s a straight-A student, one of those students that makes sure she turns all of her work in on time,” said Elisa Gonzalez, her English language arts teacher and coach of the spelling bee club. “She won the school-wide bee with the word eucalyptus.”

She offered this advice to anyone aspiring to go all the way to the Scripps National Spelling Bee: “Start studying early so you have enough time to know all the words and how to spell them.”

When Melanie and her mom, Perla Rocha, and brother Miguel Moscorro fly Sunday out of ValleyInternationalAirport, it will be Melanie’s first time flying.

“I’m proud to be representing Harmony and the Hispanic culture,” she said. “Spanish was my first language, so this shows that anyone can do it if they just try.”

Of the 291 spellers who qualified for the contest, 138 are female and 153 are male. Melanie will be contestant No. 260 when the contestants start spelling. The preliminaries will be broadcast live on ESPN3 on Wednesday. The finals Thursday will be on ESPN2 starting at 10 a.m., and on ESPN starting at 7:30 p.m.

glong@brownsvilleherald.com