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April 25, 2022

Fauquier County Spelling Bee winner Anna Snyder has a lot more than spelling going on

Photo by Luke Christopher
Anna Snyder is a local spelling bee champion.
Anna with her parents on the night of the spelling bee. (Photo by Jaya Patil)
By Jaya Patil
Warrenton Lifestyle

Anna Synder was greeted by a wall of reporters, educators and audience members when she walked off the Fauquier High School auditorium stage on a Saturday in February. She was sporting earrings featuring golden snitches from the world of Harry Potter. She then pointed out Hogwarts on her shirt. She had entered the battle of the county spelling bee outfitted with armor from one of her most beloved book series.

Anna has an eye for detail, showing up for an interview with silver Disney fairy hoop earrings. There are a lot of details of her life that paint the picture of who the Cedar Lee seventh-grade county spelling bee winner is. “Spelling Bee winner” is just the most recent title she has held.

An eventful day of competition

“I remember being really nervous,” Anna said of winning the county spelling bee. She advanced through competitions despite the difficulties. She said the hardest part was “working up the nerve to get onto the stage and then actually going up in front of the audience.” Even though it’s nerve-racking, it’s also exhilarating, she said.

“The most memorable competition that I had was in third grade,” she said, when she was in the 24 Club, which is a mathematical game. “I used to be all over 24 because it was amazingly fun, and I would look forward to it every day." She made it to the semifinals of the competition, and only when she returned to Mary Walter Elementary School did she learn that she was the first student of the school to make it that far.

A woman of many pursuits

“Anna has always loved learning,” her parents said. “She was such a sponge when she was little, she would soak up anything.”

Her favorite historical figure is Albert Einstein, and she recently took on trying to memorize the periodic table.

Anna can often be found reading on her bed at home. Of the Harry Potter series, her favorite character is undoubtedly Hermione. “She was a true role model for me because she was really into her education,” Anna said.

The Cedar Lee student loves creating stories and has been writing a fantasy book since elementary school that she hopes to publish one day. “I feel like writing my own book is a ton of fun, and it feels like you’re making your own adventure,” she said. She has even made the cover for her ongoing book -- embellished with the eerie eyes of a misty dragon flanked with figures in old armor.

Actively leading the way

A Girl Scout, Anna dives into knowledge and activity. Her parents said that “she amazed everyone by hula hooping while dancing, running and crossing a balance beam in the Mary Walter talent show” one year.

She loves baking and making, from cupcakes and family dinners to concoctions and science kits. Anna and her brother will even put on their own family versions of the cooking competition "Chopped." Just as the high school stage didn’t stop her, a challenge doesn’t faze her.

Anna dedicates herself as actively to moving around as to creating opportunities to empower and inspire those around her. Before graduating from Mary Walter to Cedar Lee, Anna and her best friend Aubrey started the Lightning Girls Club. The club was established to “help girls feel like they’re wanted and get back up again when they’ve fallen from a high place,” she said.

Club meetings started with education on female idols such as Helen Keller or J. K. Rowling followed by an activity inspired by what those women did or were known for. Open to any girls, the club was special for more reserved girls in showing them what they’re capable of. “Everyone needs someone to help pull them up,” Anna said.

How far she’ll go

Anna expresses her feelings eloquently, saying there is no courage without vulnerability. She remembers the best part of the county spelling bee as “the surprise of actually winning.” She went into it thinking, “I’ll do my best, but I probably won’t get that far.” When I repeated her victory, she looked down with a modest smile.

Though Anna is now thinking she'd like to pursue a career as an architect, her parents recalled, “Back when she was much younger, her mind was set on being a spy at night, a scientist and engineer during the week and working on weekends at Pizza Hut.”

This article originally appeared in the April 2022 issue of Warrenton Lifestyle. Read the issue here.

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