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Greek word trips speller

June 02, 1999

Ashley SmithBy BRUCE HAMILTON / Staff Writer

photo: RIC DUGAN / staff photographer




A character from ancient Greek drama was Ashley Marie Smith's downfall.

Ashley, a 13-year-old Springfield Middle School student, was eliminated in the first round at the 72nd Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington on Wednesday.

She misspelled "deuteragonist," an ancient Greek term meaning the character in a play who is second in importance to the protagonist.

She incorrectly changed the second "e" to an "o," but it was the only letter she got wrong.

"It is the luck of the draw," said her father, Alan Smith. Some students got more difficult words than others, he said.

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"She took it very well," he said, noting that some contestants cried after being eliminated.

Not Ashley. She laughed when she heard the word, she said. Her emotional moment came earlier.

When first on stage, she said, "I felt like crying because I was really nervous. Afterwards, I took it well. "

Ashley earned the chance to participate when she won the 20th annual Washington County Spelling Bee. She correctly spelled brutal, aggressor, kerchief, serenely, prudently, ombrometer, helix and mutable in eight rounds on March 13.

Sponsored by The Herald-Mail Co., Ashley and her father, Alan Smith, went to Washington for the weeklong event that included an ice cream social, talent show, barbecue and sightseeing tours.

"It was a nice experience just being in Washington," Ashely said.

They took an organized tour and saw some of the sites, including the Jefferson and Lincoln memorials, as well as the Vietnam wall, her father said.

Two other Tri-State area students didn't survive their first rounds Wednesday.

Chris Tyson, a 12-year-old Greencastle, Pa., resident, misspelled "griot." Clara Raubertas, 13, a Charles Town, W. Va. resident, misspelled "sirenian."

Two others were eliminated in the second round. Ethan Miller, 14, of Hedgesville, W.Va., successfully spelled "kundalini." Kelsey Swaim, a 10-year-old from Berkeley Springs, aced "simpatico."

Ethan stumbled with "erroneously" and Kelsey with "vindicate."

The final rounds of the spelling bee will be held today.

All regional winners stay at the Grand Hyatt Washington. ESPN will broadcast the final round from the Independence Ballroom there starting at noon today.

The winner receives $10,000, a choice of encyclopedias and other prizes. Scripps Howard organizes the national finals, compiles the word lists and provides the study materials.

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