Fargo Student to Compete in National Spelling Bee

Tobi Shorunke says he studies for hours a day

FARGO, N.D. — One student is headed off to Washington D.C.to represent the entire state of North Dakota and compete in Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Tobi Shorunke, an 8th grader at Ben Franklin Middle School, has won the school–wide, county–level, and state–wide spelling bees to qualify for the national one.

He says getting to this point was completely unexpected after competing in the school spelling bee on a whim.

“Me and brother kind of talked about it as a joke way before I got here. We were like, ‘what if I made it to the national spelling bee?’ and we just both laughed,” he said.

Tobi and his brother, Timi, may not have thought it was possible then, but now, Tobi is on his way to the nation’s capital.

“It’s such a wonderful experience to see how excited and passionate he is to compete. He studied so hard, sometimes I have dinner ready, and my son will tell me, ‘mommy, I have just a couple of more words to go through,’ and he studied very hard,” Bukola Bakare Shorunke, Tobi’s mother, said.

Tobi studies for hours each day to prepare for the big competition, and Timi has been helping him in his own way.

“Most of the chores Tobi’s supposed to be doing, his brother has taken it on. Like doing dishes, cleaning their rooms, Timi has been doing that, so he could get Tobi time to study,” Bukola said.

“You got to study. If you don’t study you don’t have a chance. You can’t really go into it and not study at all,” Tobi said.

He says his favorite book that helps him study is “Words of Wisdom” by Scott Remer.

“It focuses on the concepts of different languages. So if you have to guess a word you can make an educated guess,” he said.

Even though Tobi is great at spelling, he says his favorite subjects are math and science, and he also likes to play sports.

“Tobi is very competitive, he likes to compete. He likes to compete in sports, whenever there’s competition, even in school, he likes to participate, but this is the major one he has participated in,” Bukola said.

Both Tobi and his mother say people in the community and his friends have been rooting for him.

“They’re really cheering me on. They’re pretty supportive so far. Some of the will be watching on TV,” Tobi said.

“I feel so humbled to be able to see my son very focused on what he decided to do. He’s always been like that. He’s someone who always wants to give his full attention to whatever he’s trying to accomplish,” Bukola said.

After seeing Tobi come this far, Timi is inspired to go out for the spelling bee next year.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee will run from May 29 to May 31, with additional activities before and after the competition.

Categories: Local News, North Dakota News