Local girl heading to the 2017 Scripps National Spelling Bee

It's that time of year again--the nation's top spellers gather in Washington, D.C to match wits and show off their mastery of the English language. This year's Scripps National Spelling Bee will include a young lady from Aston, Delaware County.

Outside on a beautiful spring day, the birds were chirping but inside 11-year-old Phoebe Smith's Aston, Delaware County home, it's all about the bees.

Phoebe's interest in the contest was born just three months ago, at Northley Middle School, where she's a 6th grader.

"Our teacher told us we were going to have a class spelling bee," she explained to FOX 29's Bruce Gordon. "And I guess I got really excited because I knew I did well on spelling tests and I'm just a competitive person."

She won the class contest, and then the school spelling bee and after that, the Delaware county competition.

Now, she's headed to Washington, D.C. for the national competition.

Mom- a filmmaker- and dad- a college professor- had no idea what they'd gotten themselves into.

"It's been 5-6 hours a day, meltdowns every other day," said Steve Smith from behind the 2662-page dictionary he consults. "It's intense. She doesn't go out with her friends. Her friends call- 'can you come out and hang out with us?' She doesn't want to. She wants to stay home and study."

"I do like it," says Phoebe of her marathon study sessions. "Sometimes it can get a little bit tedious, but I like languages and I like learning about the different rules for languages."

On Thursday, her Northley classmates lined the hallway and cheered her on as a send-off to the nationals.

"A lot of people are more concerned about sports and activities outside of school," she says. "But I think this is cool because other kids will get to learn about this and maybe be encouraged to do it next year."