OSB student takes second in Braille Challenge

June 26, 2016 | muskogeephoenix.com | By Cathy Spaulding

Oklahoma School for the Blind sophomore Richelle Zampella won $1,800 in prizes at the National Braille Challenge.

Zampella, a Muskogee resident, said she won $800 for placing second in the junior varsity division and $1,000 for receiving the Harley Fetterman Award of Excellence in Charts and Graphs. She said she hasn’t decided how she’ll spend the money.

“I’ll probably save it,” she said.

Competitors from the United States and Canada met in Los Angeles June 18 for the Braille Challenge, the only national reading and writing contest in Braille for students who are blind and visually impaired, according to a media release.

Sponsored by Braille Institute of America, the Braille Challenge is an academic competition designed to motivate students and emphasize their study of Braille, while rewarding their success with fun-filled, challenging events. This year, regional Braille Challenge events were held at 47 different sites in the U.S. and Canada from January through March. Collectively, more than 1,100 students participated in the regional events with top 49 competing in the finals over the weekend.

OSB Principal Lynn Cragg said she isn’t surprised about Zampella’s awards.

“She’s an exceptional young lady,” Cragg said.

Zampella qualified after winning a Braille Challenge at OSB last spring.

“It was definitely harder than the regional, “ she said. “At Nationals, I don’t know how hard the students prepared for it.”

Zampella said she also had the opportunity to go to the beach with her sister.

“We’d wade in and feel the ocean and feel the waves,” she said.

They also visited a Harry Potter exhibit at Universal Studios, she said.

“It was neat to feel the memorabilia from the movie instead of imagining it,” Zampella said.