CINCINNATI -- As the top spellers from across the Tri-State take center stage at the Regional Spelling Bee, the spotlight will focus on one person to ensure the success of the event.
The pronouncer. The often forgot about centerpiece of the event. She must get everything right, so how does she prepare?
Ria Farrell Schalnat is the woman behind the mic. She's the one that all eyes will be focused on as she pronounces the words at the regional competition.
"I go through the entire list and I practice pronouncing the words. I practice pronouncing the sentences because sometimes the words and definitions and sentences are even harder than the words that the kids are expected to spell," Schalnat said.
The 600 word list, which she started reviewing in December, is kept under lock-and-key at her law firm, Dinsmore & Shohl.
"No one can see what's in here. I work in a law firm so we are used to protecting confidential info," Schalnat said.
The final list of 400 words comes only 72 hours before the Bee.
Being a part of a Bee isn't new to Schalnat. She won the Regional Bee as an eighth grader at St. Pius in Edgewood.
"It was such a formative experience for me that I wanted to give back to the bee," Schalnat said. But practicing words over and over again can be a bit tricky.
"Now you're getting words that are derived from Sanskrit or Arabic and Russian. Maybe even Native-American languages that are being honored as part of the rich context of history in our language development," Schalnat said.
Everyone has that moment at one time or another: They misspell word. Previous Bee participants say they never forget that one word they missed. For Schalnat the word was "satrapy." She misspelled it in the fifth round at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.