Finksburg student competes in National Braille Challenge

June 30, 2016 | | By Heather Mongilio

A second-grader from Finksburg traveled across the country to participate in the National Braille Challenge on Sunday.

Meredith Day, 8, a blind student at the Maryland School for the Blind won the Maryland Regional Braille Challenge, advancing her to the national competition in California. She competed in the apprentice level against other first- and second-grade students from around the United States.

The Carroll County Times caught up with Meredith before she left for the competition to ask her about competing.

Q: Can you tell me a little about what you had to do for the Braille Challenge?
A: We had to read, we had to spell words, we had to write words in Braille and spell them correctly, and we had to read and detect errors and read things and do comprehensive questions.

Q: Did you practice for this? How did you train?
A: I use Braille every day so that’s how I practice.

Q: For people who don’t know what Braille is or how you read in Braille, how do you read in Braille?
A: It’s a six-dot code. It’s dots that make up different letters and things. So like six dots on a dice.

Q: Is it easy or hard?
A: Easy. We’re all Braille readers [at the Maryland School for the Blind]. Not for the sighted people who are trying to learn it because then they have to learn both ways. So there are people in school that read with their eyes and teach.

Q: Do you have a favorite book you like to read?
A: I like to read this book called, “Socks.” It’s about a kitty cat by Beverly Cleary.

Q: So going on to the national level of the Braille competition, what are you excited for the most?
A: Well I’m excited about the reading part because I love to read.

Q: What’s your favorite part about reading?
A: All the great stories.

Q: Is there anything that you think will be the hardest?
A: Maybe finding errors because sometimes you can’t always find them because you might not know how to spell a word.

Q: When you are competing with other people, are you all in one room or are you doing it separately?
A: It’s divided into different grade levels. I’m in the second grade level, which I think is apprentice because I’m in second grade.

Q: Were you in a room full of people when you were doing all the reading?
A: Well, only the other people who were competing and the instructor for that activity.

Q: Do you have a certain amount of time you have to do each activity in?
A: Yes, they are timed. Yes.

Q: What’s your favorite part about competing?
A: I like to do lots of different things. And sometimes if you finish before times up you get to do different things like play Braille games and stuff.

Q: What types of Braille games do you play?
A: Sometimes we play Uno and sometimes we’ll read Braille cards. Lots of things. And sometimes I play Monopoly.

Q: What made you decide to do the Braille challenge?
A: Because I like to read and most of it is about reading. When I grow up I would like to be a librarian.

Q: Do you get a read a lot at school?
A: If you finish your work early you get to read, yes. But there’s also a time when teachers tell you that you should be reading, that you can read. And in the mornings after you’ve done everything you have to do in the morning, you can read.

Q: Do you have a favorite subject at school?
A: I like media, and I also like math. And I’m really good at math, too.

Q: What was it like to get past the regional Braille challenge and find out you won?
A: I was pretty excited.

Q: I know you get to travel but anything else that you are looking forward to when you are going to the National Braille Challenge?
A: We’re going to Disneyland before we go to the Braille Challenge. And I was excited when I found out.

Q: And what’s a fun fact about you?
A: I like pink. And I like cake and puppies. And bunnies.