Linda Buitron, a fourth-grader at Columbine Elementary School in Boulder and member of the Boulder Church, won the Spanish Spelling Bee for her school this year. She went on to compete at the national level in Albuquerque, New Mexico on July 17 and 18. At eight years old, she was the youngest contestant and in the lowest grade.

Pablo, Linda’s father, has been her main coach since the local spelling bee. “We spent about an hour a day spelling the competition words,” he said. “And I used the Internet to find helpful rules about word endings and etymologies.”
Linda placed 11th out of 26. The winner was a ninth-grader, who also won the competition last year. The event organizer gave special recognition to Linda as the youngest contestant. Finishing 11th of 26 and in round seven was quite an accomplishment for her, considering that the other students were older and in higher grades.

Linda has depended on God’s help since the beginning of the contest. “I always pray before I study, and I prayed before each round of the competition,” she said. “I asked God to help me study, even when I would rather have been making designs with the Rainbow Loom.”

Gloria, Linda’s mother, has also been a huge support. She says she is already planning the family’s trip to San Antonio next year for the national competition. “Linda is excited about getting the new spelling list and working on it right away,” she added.

“Si Dios quiere,” or “If God wills it,” Linda says of winning next year’s competition. Her trust in God, her perseverance, and her gentle spirit among the contestants were inspiring to many around her.

Author Jacquelyn Hayes is a volunteer chaplain at Avista Adventist Hospital and an active member of the Boulder Church.