Whidbey News-Times


Spellbinding experience

Whidbey News-Times Staff Reporter
June 17, 2013 · 8:49 AM

Trina Desquitado, center, and her parents Badette and Rex, are back home in Oak Harbor after Trina’s participation in the National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., earlier this month. Trina, a fifth grader, was one of 281 competitors nationwide. / Ron Newberry/Whidbey News-Times

It’s a lot to soak in for a fifth grader.

A national television appearance, radio and TV interviews, a tour of national landmarks she’d only read about in books.

But Trina Desquitado took it all in stride in a polite, quiet and respectful manner, never showing too much excitement.

Her smile, however, was a mainstay.

“I think she was enjoying all the attention,” her mother, Badette Alarkon Desquitado said.

Trina recently returned home to Oak Harbor from a dream-like trip to Washington, D.C., where she was one of 281 contestants nationwide competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

She was one of three participants from Washington state, earning the trip after winning the Skagit County Regional Spelling Bee in late March.

Trina survived three rounds of the National Spelling Bee competition, but wasn’t among the final 42 contestants who qualified for the semifinals.

She didn’t misspell a word, but a computer-based test taken by all participants was used to determine who made the semifinals. That test focused on vocabulary rather than spelling.

“It’s not just the spelling of the words, it’s learning the vocabulary,” Badette said. “We felt the strain. We put in long hours (studying) for the regional Spelling Bee. We put in longer hours for nationals because we had to know the vocabulary.”

There were some tears for Trina, but they didn’t last long.

At 11-years-old and standing 4 feet, 4 inches, the Broad View Elementary School student was one of the youngest, smallest and least experienced competitors at the national event. Some had qualified for the event three or four times.

Trina was invited to represent Washington on the main stage during championship night, although she did not compete.

“At first I felt a little upset about me not advancing to the semifinals,” Trina said, “but after a while I felt really good about it, about how much I did already.”

Trina was accompanied by her mother, grandmother Alice Alarkon and older sisters Therese and Tricia to the nation’s capital. The stay lasted May 26-June 2 with the National Spelling Bee paying for Trina and her mother’s trip.

The family was joined in Washington, D.C. by Badette’s husband, Rex Desquitado. He had traveled more than 24 hours to get from Saudia Arabia to Washington, D.C., where he greeted his family.

Rex, who is retired from the Navy, is a contractor working security in Riyadh.

He was already planning to attend his eldest daughter Therese’s Oak Harbor High School graduation, so he moved up his leave from work so he could catch Trina’s competition on the way home.

“I was so amazed at her accomplishment at Broad View,” he said. “My wife is the one teaching her every day. She is practicing long hours, studying, instead of playing or swimming. She didn’t have time for that.

“I’m very proud.”

Already, Trina is thinking ahead to 2014 and already studying.

“I tell her to look for unique words every day,” Badette said.

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