RIO GRANDE CITY — Earlier this month, 13-year-old Krishna Miana became champion of the AIM Media Texas-sponsored Rio Grande Valley Regional Spelling Bee, advancing her to the D.C Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.

Krishna Miana with her trophy after winning the Rio Grande Valley Regional Spelling Bee competition in Harlingen on March 7.
(Courtesy photo)

But as events, concerts and conventions across the nation have been canceled to restrict the spread of COVID-19, so has the Scripps bee. The last time the contest was canceled was in 1943-45 because of World War II. In fact, this would have been the 93rd annual Scripps bee.

Since Miana is in eighth grade, this was her last shot at taking home a national title. There are no spelling bees in high school.

However, her spirits remain positive because she understands that precautionary measures have to be taken.

“I am glad that they are taking precautions to make sure people are safe and healthy,” said Miana, who attends Ringgold Middle School in Rio Grande City.

She remembers watching her older sister compete in spelling bees, and in elementary, asked her mother if she could also compete. Her first bee was in fourth grade, and ever since, she said spelling has been her source of courage.

Miana considers herself to be a shy person, but spelling bees have pushed her to get on stages and speak loud. Now, that confidence has extended to other endeavors of hers.

“Last year, I joined my school’s drill team,” Miana said, who hopes to be in the medical field one day as a psychiatrist or occupational therapist. “I never thought I would do that, but being in spelling bees encouraged me to.”

To prepare for the Scripps bee, Miana has been practicing 500 words a day. So, she is disappointed that she will not be able to test her skills at a national level.

Miana was also looking forward to meeting new people at the competition and paying a visit to the monuments on Capitol Hill. This year, she is taking a U.S. History course, so it would have been special for her to see national memorials.

“I was excited to see Washington monuments and the congressional library,” Miana said.

“I was also excited to meet new people. Since it was nationals, I was going to meet a wide diversity of people. So, I was looking forward to making new friends since I live in a small town.”

Her mother, Myla Miana, said that she was just as enthused about the trip as Krishna. However, she is glad that event coordinators are taking health precautions.

“Of course we are disappointed, but this is for the greater good,” Myla, a registered nurse at Starr County Memorial Hospital, said. “I am happy she won regionals, and if nationals does not happen, what can we do? It is for the best. I am just hoping and praying that the virus pandemic can calm down.”