OAKLAND -- Montera Middle School sixth-grader Julia Stewart won fourth place in the Alameda County Spelling Bee's elementary school category, bringing home a trophy.

A total of 35 students representing 29 schools participated in the March 8 county spelling bee in the elementary and junior high divisions.

The first- and second-place winners in each category will proceed to the state spelling bee April 26 in Stockton.

"I feel good about getting a trophy, but really wanted to go onto the next level," said Stewart, whose goal is to make it to the state spelling bee.

Stewart won her first spelling bee in the third grade, when she came in third place at the Montclair Elementary School spelling bee.

She also came in third place in the fourth grade; tied for first place in the OUSD spelling bee in the fifth grade; and placed fifth in the county spelling bee last year.

"Montera is thrilled for Julia and her representation of Montera at the spelling bee. Her accomplishment is an example of her hard work and excellence. We are proud to have her represent our Montera Toros," said Tina Tranzor, principal of Montera Middle School.

In the weeks leading up to the spelling bee, Stewart can be seen carrying around folders containing lists of words.

For this year's bee, she studied nearly 4,000 words.

"I highlight the ones I don't know," she said. "I don't study the easy ones that aren't going to give me any trouble."

"Julia reads like a fiend and has since she was little, but doesn't read the dictionary," said Kari Stewart, Julia's mother. "She has a love of language. This helps her with this. She now has a better vocabulary than I do."

"I'm going to go as far as I can," Julia Stewart said.

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