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‘Lexicon Legend’ from Rockford takes the stage at the Scripps National Spelling Bee

Seventh-grader competes against the best in D.C.

Rockford — “Loquacious” has been one of Brady Bowers’ favorite words for the better part of a decade. He just loves how it feels and sounds when he says it out loud.

Brady is in seventh grade. 

Traveling to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in the Washington, D.C. area included a special tour of the National Mall (courtesy photo)

The North Rockford middle schooler is a Scripps National Spelling Bee finalist, so it makes sense that a word that means “talkative” is in his top three along with “sesquipedalian” (an adjective used to describe long words) and “vexillologist,” the word for an expert on flags. 

After winning the Greater Grand Rapids regional spelling bee on March 28, Brady qualified to join just 231 third- through eighth-graders on the stage at the national bee held in the Washington, D.C. area from Tuesday through Thursday this week, May 30-June 1. His win makes him the first student from Rockford Public Schools to ever compete at nationals and fulfills his lifelong dream to make it to Scripps. 

“I’ve enjoyed these bees, I’ve enjoyed seeing who the winners are. Knowing that this has been my dream for a long time and now that I get to fulfill that, it excites me a lot,” Brady said before leaving for the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center. 

Lissa Weidenfeller, North Rockford Middle School’s principal, said her school community is thrilled to send Brady to the National Spelling Bee in part because he’s such a bright, eager learner. 

“He just loves learning. He just wants to learn everything all the time about everything about the world,” she said of Brady, who also loves history, geography, math and music. 

He’s not just a top performer when it comes to academics, Weidenfeller added — he’s an all-around great guy. 

“Even though he’s so smart, he’s still able to hold conversations, he’s still able to be personable, he’s still able to ask questions, to care about others, to be kind, to help others. He’s just an awesome role model.”

Where to Watch the Bee: Semifinals and finals will be televised on Wednesday and Thursday nights from 8 to 10 p.m. See the schedule and streaming info here

Brady is hoping to meet another spelling whiz who wants to be his pen pal at the Scripps National Spelling Bee near Washington, D.C. (courtesy photo)

Preparing for the Bee

While Brady enjoys a social life and learning about other subjects, his main focus in recent weeks has been prepping for the big bee. 

“Most of my spare time now is staring at a dictionary and typing words into flash cards,” he said. 

He said his work isn’t just about memorization, though. 

“Knowing the definitions of words, knowing the root words from Greek, Latin, or even Japanese is very helpful.”

Because the Scripps National Spelling Bee does not provide lists of words to memorize like local and regional bees do, knowing spelling and grammar rules from different languages is immensely helpful. It helps then that Brady is bilingual, having participated in Rockford’s K-8 Spanish Immersion Program at Roguewood Elementary School and now North Rockford Middle. 

If he does win at Scripps? Weidenfeller said Brady’s plan is to take on the Spanish spelling bee next year. 

A World of Support

Brady says that the support he feels from his family and community, which includes friends from around the world, helps a lot as he takes the nerve-wracking stage at the national bee. For each bee he’s been in this year so far, he’s worn a bracelet depicting the Kenyan flag to remind him of the support he has from friends in that country. 

He also has people cheering him on at school, where his teachers and schoolmates put together a special care package that included his favorite snacks, Ram gear and a custom-designed T-shirt with his nickname, “Lexicon Legend” on it. 

‘He just loves learning. He just wants to learn everything all the time about everything about the world.’

— Lissa Weidenfeller, North Rockford Middle School principal

But when it comes to dealing with nerves, no one has helped him more than his mom, Tracy Bowers. 

“She’s been kind enough to share how to deal with emotions, stress, nerves and all that,” he said.

Brady’s trip to the national bee is sponsored entirely by Kent ISD (courtesy photo)

Ram Pride Goes Beyond Sports and Music 

Brady knows that not everyone shares his special interest in long and complicated words, but thankfully, he has a word for that: “hippopotomonstrosesquippedaliophobia,” or the fear of long words. 

“Not many people seem to enjoy spelling bees, which is one reason why I’m doing it: because I want to show people in West Michigan how fun these things are. If you don’t like talking in front of crowds, or even for public speaking, this is a way to improve that,” he said. 

And as a proud Rockford Ram, he’s happy to show the world that his district performs academically as well as it does in sports and music. 

“Being in something that’s different … is pretty cool to show that Rockford is a very academically diverse school district.”

Brady passed Round 2 of the Scripps National Spelling Bee by spelling the word ‘olecranon’ correctly (courtesy photo)
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Allison Poosawtsee
Allison Poosawtsee
Allison Poosawtsee is a reporter covering Rockford Public Schools and Kent City Community Schools. She has spent 15+ years working and writing in the education context, first for her alma mater, Calvin University, and then for various businesses and nonprofit organizations in the Grand Rapids area. As a student journalist, she served as editor-in-chief of Calvin’s student newspaper where she garnered several Michigan Collegiate Press Association awards for her work. Allison is a proud parent of two Grand Rapids Public Schools scholars and a passionate advocate for the value of public education.


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