Sisters to compete in international event

By Cathy Spaulding Phoenix Staff Writer | Posted: Friday, May 8, 2015

Two Muskogee sisters will return to Los Angeles this summer to compete in the 15th annual Braille Challenge.

Oklahoma School for the Blind eighth­grader Richelle Zampella and third­grader Katelynn Zampella were among 60 finalists who qualified for the international competition, June 20 in Los Angeles.
The sisters also qualified for the National Braille Challenge in 2013.

Richelle said she’s excited, but not surprised that she qualified.

“One of our teachers got together practice tests on all the different levels for me and Katelyn” Richelle said. “It takes not only hard work, but also dedication,” she said. “You have to want to win.”

Katelynn said she plans to win by working hard. “The easy part is proofreading,” Katelynn said. “The hardest is composition.”

Braille Challenge finalists will compete in five categories: Reading comprehension, spelling, chart/graph reading, proofreading and speed/accuracy. Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony. Richelle was the seventh through 12th grade overall winner of the Regional Braille Challenge, held March 7 at OSB. Katelynn took a silver medal in the “freshman” competition at the regional challenge.

Hailey Baskeyfield, who goes to elementary school in Norman, also qualified for the competition. Hailey won gold in the freshman competition and best overall in first through sixth grades at the regional meet.

“This will be Hailey’s third or fourth time to qualify,” said OSB Outreach Coordinator Sherry Holder, co­director of the Regional Braille Challenge. “For us to have this many to qualify is an amazing opportunity for the students.”

Having two OSB students return to the international meet also speaks well of the school’s program, Holder said.

“It says we do a good job in Braille instruction,” she said. “We start them at a young age.” The competition is sponsored by the Braille Institute.