A Grand Granddaughter
Natalia is in the 4th grade. She is a very intelligent, personable, caring, athletic, beautiful, and talented young lady. She is an excellent writer and illustrator and has the most beautiful singing voice. We are as proud of her as it is possible to be.
Last month, she entered the Spelling Bee at her elementary school. It is open to 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students. Generally, it is assumed that the 4th graders, and to some extent the 5th graders, compete in the contest to gain experience, so they can seriously compete when they are in the 6th grade. The age difference, extent of vocabulary, and experience in spelling normally create a considerable gap between the 4th and 6th grade students. We encouraged Natalia and told her we were proud of her for taking on that challenge. We knew she would do her best, because she is a real competitor at whatever she attempts. We were not prepared for what happened.
At the conclusion of the Spelling Bee, at which all the school’s students were in attendance, the top two finishers were Natalia and a 6th grade girl. Natalia missed her final word (euphoria), but by finishing in second place, she will be competing at the next round, which will include the top two finishers from the other elementary schools that feed their common middle school. We were amazed, as was just about everyone else. We are looking forward to watching her compete at the next level. We do not know whether there will be any other 4th graders competing, because she is the very first 4th grader to ever be one of the two top finishers in her school.
Natalia writes fictional stories on the MAC at her home and on the PC’s at our house, using Microsoft Word. Her command of language, spelling, punctuation, and keyboarding (at least 32 words per minute) is quite impressive for her age. In addition to her mastery of these “mechanics,” she just has creativity oozing out of her brain. Her stories include a wide gamut of emotions, including a successful use of humor. The dialog she invents for her characters is appropriate and sounds very natural. Her stories are delightful. Her creativity also shows through the beautiful free-hand illustrations she sometimes adds to enhance the stories.
I mentioned she is athletic. She is a very good basketball player who has played a couple of seasons in a recreation league (YMCA). But, her forte at this time is gymnastics, again in a recreation center program. After one class as a beginner, she quickly moved up to the intermediate class, and as soon as that was completed, she was “promoted” to a pre-team class. This is for students who are not yet ready for a competitive team, but are more advanced (and more serious) than the regular recreational classes. To move up this quickly is surprising. At school, she wins or places second in almost every “field day” event, especially running competitions, including hurdles.
Her voice and poise as a performer are almost startling. From at least age four, she has displayed a natural vibrato that I’m sure many professional singers have worked hard to develop. At the last two school talent shows, she sang currently-popular songs and was a major hit in both shows. She has prepared and submitted an audition CD to try to be accepted to sing the national anthem at one or another of our local professional sports venues. She did that shortly after amazing the family last summer by singing The Star-Spangled Banner beautifully, a cappella, for us at a backyard picnic, on the spur of the moment. She, her brother Joel, and their mother (on piano), with sound work handled by their father, perform gratis a couple of times each year for a local assisted-living center and are much appreciated and encouraged to return. Natalia and Joel do the singing, mostly “oldies,” and we see many of the residents singing along with them. When Natalia is in front of an audience with a microphone in her hand, she demonstrates true stage presence. Although she says she is usually nervous, no one else has any idea that she is anything but comfortable. She moves naturally about the stage while singing, makes eye contact, and shows that she enjoys performing. She is now in the school band, taking clarinet lessons, and progressing impressively.
Natalia has a wonderful personality. She is as comfortable around adults and elderly people as she is with kids her age. She has a genuine caring feeling for other people and for animals. I call her our latest family “care-giver.” At school, she attempts to solve interpersonal conflicts, including those between other students, rather than to exacerbate them by “taking sides” or reacting angrily. She is sensitive to others’ feelings. She is soft-hearted and can be easily hurt, emotionally. But, she is also resilient and is willing to stand up for herself when necessary. She is one of those children whom teachers love to have in their classes.
These are just some of the talents, traits, and abilities she has already demonstrated, at age 10. We are very much looking forward to watching her grow up, and we believe she can achieve anything she wishes to in life. She is a most grand granddaughter.