Applauding Angel are (from left)  School Youth Mentor James Hawkins, Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace, Angel Allen, Florida City  First Lady Greer Wallace, Founding Principal & Principal of Curriculum Julie Ravenall, and Principal of Discipline Donald Ra...

Applauding Angel are (from left) School Youth Mentor James Hawkins, Florida City Mayor Otis Wallace, Angel Allen, Florida City First Lady Greer Wallace, Founding Principal & Principal of Curriculum Julie Ravenall, and Principal of Discipline Donald Raven.

Florida City’s very own spelling bee whiz, Angel Allen, got a heaping of hometown love last Friday, after placing in the top 25 of the 1,761 students in the Scripps National Spelling bee.

In a morning awards ceremony taking place at her school – Avant School of Excellence – located at 777 West Palm Drive, the bright fifth grader was applauded by fellow students, staff, family, and local leaders for her accomplishment; one which also placed her in the top 1% of Miami-Dade/Monroe County students who participated in the annual spelling competition.

Mayor Otis Wallace, alongside his wife, First Lady Greer Wallace, presented Allen with a Woman of Distinction award on April 14th for her academic excellence, and highlighted why he had to be there.

“The best times I have as mayor are the times I spend with kids like you,” said Wallace, “Because with all the negative things happening in the world, when I see the kids, I see the future and it makes me smile.”

Wallace also congratulated her on her local significance, upon giving Allen the wooden plaque for her achievement.

“Angel, you’re one of our special angels here in Florida City,” Wallace said.

The Wallaces didn’t leave empty handed either as both kindergarten and first grade students presented them with welcoming posters, hallmarking the occasion.

For Allen, the festivity finalized her months of studying for the spelling bee, something she said she was initially interested in because of her father.

“My dad was always helping me study,” said Allen, “...and my favorite subject would be spelling. It was so fun, it was like really fun, I don’t know how to describe it.”

As she glowed in talking about how much she enjoyed spelling and competing with others, she recalled how when she first started reading she would be curious to see if she could spell the words, and then later find harder words, and even afterwards ask to be drilled on more words, like her favorite word: supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.

She began seeing the televised spelling contests and was hooked.

“I’ve seen TV shows, competitions, that was what inspired me to spell,” Allen said.

Finally making it to the national spelling bee stage herself, after taking place in previous smaller ones, Allen also spoke about her thoughts once there.

“I was extremely nervous, really nervous…but my parents encouraged me,” said Allen, “[and] it was still an accomplishment that I had made, that I got that far on the stage.”

As such, Allen shared her strategy in spelling under pressure.

“I usually take my hand and write it down on paper, on an imaginary piece of paper in my hand,” Allen said. “Then I say the word, spell the word, then say the word again.”

To study for the spelling bees it's a family affair, said Allen, with her mom drilling her, and her dad encouraging her when she needs to study harder.

And after about three hours of study, she then eats, and then back to more studying.

When not studying Allen said she is either relaxing, playing with her sister, taking a bath, or gaming on her Playstation.

To see her flourish as she has, her father, Sanjo Allen, is still in awe, and never imagined she would accomplish so much so soon.

“Absolutely not,” said Allen’s dad.

For parents, he also said that by using resources and being involved with their

children, they can spur them on to excellence too.

“Knowing your child’s pros and cons,” Allen’s dad said, “strengths and weaknesses.”

Allen’s mother, Ave’lina Allen, added another thing parents should do.

“Put God first,” said Allen’s mom.

Additionally, she explained how other kids themselves can excel academically.

“Even if no one else pushes you, push yourself,” Allen’s mom said. “Be the best you can be, work hard, and study. Learn as much as you can, and do more listening than talking.”

One day, Allen herself hopes to be a teacher, encouraging her students to spell and compete also.

“If I can do it, they can do it too,” said Allen.

And for other spelling bee hopefuls, Allen shared the following tips.

“The first thing you should do is figure out what spelling is about, the easiest way to learn it,” Allen said, “Whatever you put your mind to, you can make it happen.”

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