DAVIE, Fla. – A local spelling bee champ is making South Florida proud, staying in the running at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
In a word, Simone Kaplan is SPELL-TACULAR!
"When she comes up, everybody just gets a smile on their face, just praying that she will win," Kaplan's classmate, Quinn O'Keefe, said.
The 13-year-old from St. Bonaventure Catholic School in Davie has competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee three times, so this one may be the charm.
"She is queen bee in spelling, but she is Simone to us," Kaplan's English teacher, Annette Day, said. "A natural -- total natural. I mean, it just comes to her."
Out of 565 hopefuls, the list of competitors has been whittled down and Kaplan is one of the remaining ones.
"She wakes up every single morning and practices and rehearses. She Skypes, she has coaches and she loves language," Day said.
Kaplan studies like an Olympian -- three hours a day during the week and eight hours on weekends.
"I saw that she has an average of 28 seconds spell time, and most people are taking up the whole time," O'Keefe said.
There is a two-minute time limit and Kaplan slays it. In fact, the hashtag #slayingwhilespelling has been bestowed upon her.
Adorned in her signature bumble bee outfits, Kaplan has her classmates giving her high marks.
"Everyone starts going crazy for her, clapping, standing up (and) rooting for her," O'Keefe said.