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Amber Robinson wins the 74th Miami Herald Spelling Bee

Miami-Dade County student dedicates achievement, success to loved ones

Miami Times staff report | 3/27/2014, 9 a.m.

For Amber Robinson, preparing for the 74th Miami Herald Spelling Bee was like getting ready for the Super Bowl. So she had a game plan that was rather unique.

While other students studied for hours going over vocabulary lists and sophisticated websites, the 14-year-old student from Herbert A. Ammons Middle School also viewed tapes of past spelling bee competitions, seeking to gain an edge over known rivals and opponents.

In addition to her regular schoolwork, the tapes led Robinson into strict training mode as she looked for any weaknesses and strengths from her past competitors, hoping to find tips that would help put her over the top.

Her plan worked.

Robinson beat more than 70 middle school students to capture first place last Wednesday in the countywide competition. The event was sponsored by the Burger King Worldwide corporation.

The winning word was vestibule, which according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, is an entrance hall inside a building.

This victory has won Robinson a trip for two to Washington D.C., where she will compete in the nationally televised Scripps National Spelling Bee in May.

American Airlines will provide the travel to Washington for Amber and her mother, Mildreca Robinson. Before the competition, Mildreca told her daughter “to stay positive no matter what the outcome is she’s a winner. She worked hard for years.” 

The Miami-Dade County champion of words has even been coined the nickname, “Akeelah”, after the star of the movie ‘Akeelah and the Bee.”  The character in the  film also made the trip to the nation’s capital for the same purpose.

“When I was a little kid, I used to watch Akeelah, and the security guards a my school call me Akeelah,” Robinson said. “This has actually been my dreams since I was younger.” 

Last year, Robinson fell short of first place with, “coadjutor.” This year, after spelling the winning “vestibule,”  crowds cheered as Robinson threw her arms in the air.

Over 375 public and private school students in 4th - 8th grade levels participated from Dade, Broward and Monroe Counties last year.

In addition to improving students’ spelling skills and increasing their vocabularies, spelling bee participation provides valuable experience in developing poise that the student will go on to use for the rest of their lives.