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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2009

    Blind Muskogee Girl In National Spelling Bee


    Richelle Zampella is in the fifth grade.

    "I like being outside and listening to music and playing with my sister," said Zampella.

    Pretty much a typical 11-year-old girl. And Richelle loves to spell.

    "She's a go-getter. You can't give her things fast enough," said Cindy Lumpkin, her teacher.

    The "Okie from Muskogee" is one of two students heading to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington.

    And she just may be the hardest working girl in bee business.

    "It may take us a minute to scan a dictionary page and it would probably take her five to ten minutes," said Lumpkin.


    She has Nystagmus and Leber's Congenital Amaurosis. Richelle is blind.

    She attends Parkview School -- The Oklahoma School for the Blind, where she has been learning to read and type Braille since the age of five.

    "If it weren't for them, they wouldn't be able to read and write and do everything like a normal person," said Sheila Zampella, Richelle's mother.

    "When I had her in kindergarten, by the end of the year, she was reading on a second grade level. In Braille!" Lumpkin said. "And, it just takes a lot to learn Braille."

    In March, Richelle competed with 110 other students at the 2012 Easter Oklahoma State Spelling Bee. She went 16 rounds with the reigning 2011 champion, and won with the word 'stollen.'

    For Richelle, being blind is not an obstacle. "At the school, they teach you, you can do anything you want," she said.

    Being a good speller isn't a gift, either. Something, she says, anyone can do -- if they try.

    Richelle studies nearly two hours every day.

    On May 30, the town of Muskogee will be cheering along with her parents, and her No. 1 fan Katelynn, her five-year-old sister.

    Read more: http://www.kjrh.com/dpp/news/local_n...#ixzz1uQMfhNbA

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Sangre de Cristo Mountains, New Mexico
    GREAT story. Thank you for bringing this here.