Chatsworth is buzzing about seventh grader Ayle Guevarra.
“G-U-E-V-A-R-R-A," he spells, using his finger to write the letters. It’s sort of become a habit with him. Not surprising given the amount of time he spends working on spelling.
Normally he reviews words for an hour a day.
'But like the few weeks before the competition, I review like two hours a day," he said. "Even more on the weekend.”
You better believe all this work pays off. Ayle recently won the Los Angeles County Scripps Regional Spelling Bee.
His winning word?
He’s never eaten it, but it may be his new favorite dish since it landed him a trophy and a trip to the nationals. Or back to nationals that is.
The Lawrence Middle School student competed in the Scripps National Spelling Bee last year and did really well.
“I came in like 42nd place out of 500," he said. "Which made me want to come back to it again next year. Which is now this year.”
And this year…he’s on a mission.
“I’m aiming for first place,” said Ayle.
That means his finger will be very busy for the next few weeks. And so will his family, sneaking in practice sessions whenever and wherever they can. Even his younger sister Arienne helps out, quizzing him in the car on the way to and from school.
On stage at the bee, Ayle seems cool as a c-u-c-u-m-b-e-r, but his dad Amiel…well, that’s another story.
“I literally die each time Ayle goes on stage," Guevarra said, laughing. "I cannot really bear the nerve-wracking experience.”
Ayle's advice for would-BEE competitors? Practice. A lot. “Because there’s, like, so many words in the dictionary," he said.
With hard work, dedication and a natural enthusiasm for reading, it seems his spelling bee success may have been written in the cards.