She and her son have always tested each other in spelling and vocabulary on a low-key basis around the house. That extra focus helped launch David into second place last year during a schoolwide spelling bee. When this year’s competition took place at the school, David was ready to take first place. He had studied a book that contained more than 4,000 words commonly used in spelling bees. His mother had quizzed him on each word twice. “It was fun to watch him in the bee, because I could tell in his head that he was spelling all the words,” said Jayme Allsman, Placerita English teacher and bee coordinator. “I think he could have handled anything.” Sue Doyle, (661) 257-5254 [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! SANTA CLARITA – Fourteen-year-old David Pruden has many things on his mind these days. About 23,400, actually. That’s how many words he’s memorizing for the 78th annual Scripps National Spelling Bee next month in Washington, D.C. The eighth-grader is headed to the spelling big leagues after taking first place about two weeks ago in regional competition. His winning word was “chrysanthemum.” AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88 Now he is preparing for written and oral tests that await him and his spelling competitors in the nation’s capital. Results determine who moves into the main rounds of the event. “My goal right now is just to pass the test, and if I pass that, then my goals will go higher,” David said. The Placerita Junior High School student has always had his eye on the competition, but his free time is nearly all consumed with band practice, his church group, the chess club and maintaining a 4.0 grade-point average. This year, however, it was now or never for him to enter the spelling competition, open only to students through eighth grade. “I said to him, if you’re going to do this, just go for it, because eighth grade is the cut-off,” his mother, Connie Pruden, explained.