MORENO VALLEY, Calif. - A Palm Desert eighth-grader with the proficiency to spell rarely heard words like "mnemonic" and "gnathonic" will represent Riverside County at the National Spelling Bee in May.
Katie Peterson of Palm Desert Charter Middle School topped 25 competitors to take first place Wednesday afternoon at the 36th annual Riverside County Spelling Bee, held at the Moreno Valley Conference & Recreation Center.
The contest lasted nearly three hours and went into the 22nd round before Katie cinched a win by successfully spelling "tremulous," which means to be affected with trembling or tremors.
Other rounds had required contestants to spell words such as "kudzu," "omnivorous," "gnathonic" and "paradigm," according to the county Office of Education.
Katie was representing the Desert Sands Unified School District.
The girl's mother said she and her daughter came to the United States from Indonesia 12 years ago speaking no English and learned together by watching television shows, mostly "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood" and "Sesame Street."
Katie describes herself as an ardent reader, spending whatever spare time she can with a book.
She will compete at the Scripps National Spelling Bee, slated for May 26-30, in National Harbor, Md.
The two first-place elementary school finishers from the county spelling bee -- fourth-grader Ryan Bascos from Stokoe Elementary School in Riverside and sixth-grader Shakson Isaac from the San Jacinto Leadership Academy -- will represent the county at the California Spelling Bee in San Joaquin.