By spelling the words 'novillero' (an inexperienced bullfighter) and 'temblor' (an earthquake) correctly, Sweetwater sixth-grader Kara Lehnert advanced past the third round of the National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C. this week. Lehnert was one of 11 million students who participated in the 2013 National Spelling Bee, and made it to the final 239. She, and 197 other students, were eliminated after the third round based upon a newly-created computerized vocabulary test. She did not misspell a word since she began the local spelling bee in February.
Lehnert is a sixth-grader at Sweetwater Middle School. She earned the right to compete in the National Spelling Bee by winning both the local spelling bee and then the regional spelling bee in Odessa. Lehnert was assisted in her preparation and practice by her sister, Elie Lehnert, and her parents, Dustin and Yvonne Lehnert.
Lehnert is a very accomplished and well-rounded young lady. In addition to being an honor student, she is an outstanding athlete, having led her local youth softball team to a state championship and national tournament wins as a pitcher. She plays the trumpet, volunteers for Goodfellows and other local non-profits, and is active in the local youth group at the First United Methodist Church.
The community has supported Kara and the Lehnert family in their journey to our nation’s capital. Lehnert's sixth-grade friends at Sweetwater Middle School gave her a party and the SMS cheerleaders and cheer squad held a pep-rally for Kara. Financial support for the Lehnert trip to our nation’s capital was provided by the local Lion’s Club, the Sweetwater Rotary Club, T.A. Truck Stop, Jim Bean Photography, Jim and Scharles Kelley, Sgt. Bryan and Kelly Sheridan, Hon. David and Jana Hall, the Law Office of Peter Sheridan, the Hall Law Firm, the Sweetwater Intermediate School P.T.O., and a Nolan County Courthouse fund organized by Kandy Myers. Sweetwater ISD loaned Lehnert an iPad to use in her preparation and passed a resolution honoring her success.
While Lehnert has blazed her own trail to the national event, she is not the first to do so. Sweetwater was represented at the National Spelling Bee in 1994 by Alex Musgrove.