At 13, Nevaeh Lovett already knows where she wants to go and what she wants to do when she gets there.
There’s Duke University, and then law school, and then a career as a lawyer.
That may seem heady stuff for a kid not yet in high school, but Lovett, an eighth grader at Bryan County Middle School, is one talented and determined young lady.
“Nevaeh is an elite three sport scholar athlete at BCMS,” said her principal, Liz Raeburn. “She also represents our school on our Superintendent’s council. She is a leader in the classroom, first to volunteer, works hard, always on time, witty, and serves as my co-host news anchor on BCMS LIVE. It is a true honor for her to represent our school and our district as a champion!”
And so it is Lovett competes at a championship level in middle school sports – track is currently her favorite – takes high school level classes in math and literature and lists science as her favorite subject.
What’s more, she won the district spelling bee in January, which means Lovett will represent Bryan County Schools in the region spelling bee later this month.
It’s a prize she’s been chasing for a few years, with some success. Lovett won her bee as a third grader, and winning district as an eighth grader not only advanced her to the next round of the competition, but added another trophy to her collection.
A big one, with a bee on top.
“I won’t lie. I do love a trophy,” Lovett said.
Naturally, there’s a recipe for Lovett’s success. The daughter of Delisa Skinner-Bacon and Claude Bacon, Lovett said her parents “encourage me to do my best,” adding, “They push me, but I push me as well.”
Yet when it comes to spelling bees, Lovett said she doesn’t cram in extra studying.
“The week before, and the week of, I just kind of review the words,” she said. “As it gets closer, I will look over the word list.”
For an eighth grader, it’s a list that includes words like advantageous, chrysanthemum and fibrous, among others capable of sending many an adult to a dictionary in a hurry.
For her part, Lovett said the most difficult word she’s been asked to spell is triglyceride, which is a fat responsible for the bad sort of cholesterol.
She nailed it.
But finding out what a word means is part of Lovett’s spelling bee competition game plan, she said. To use a sports metaphor, the eighth grader tries to use the whole field.
“When I get up there to spell a word, even if it’s a word I know how to spell, I ask for everything I can have,” Lovett said. “I get the definition, I ask them to use it in a sentence and I get them to repeat it. Then I make sure I said it right, and before I get ready to spell it, I usually think of where I’ve seen it before, and if I’ve seen it before, then I know how to spell it, and I’m on my way.”
In conversation with a reporter, Lovett easily uncorked a vocabulary that shows her understanding of the English language, a gift she said comes from her love of books.
“When I was a kid I really read a lot of books,” she said. “In third grade I read the whole Percy Jackson series in like a month. In the fourth grade I read the whole Harry Potter series in probably a month.”
As for what word on a spelling bee list would best describe her, Lovett suggested it would probably be “determined.”
That’s advice Lovett said she could pass on to other kids out there aspiring to accomplish big things. In a nutshell, don’t let people tell you what you can’t do. Don’t tell yourself what you can’t do, either.
“Even if nobody else believes in you, and I do have people who believe in me and I believe in myself, but I would say to others ‘if you know you can do it in your heart, then you have to say it in your head,’ Lovett said. “You have to say ‘yes, I can do it, and there’s nothing that going to stop me from doing it.’ If you do that, and you work hard at what you want to do, you win.”