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It was a letter day for spelling bee champs

March 11, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Two home-schooled students ended up dueling for the Washington County eighth-grade spelling bee title Saturday afternoon.

Students from Saint Mary's School in downtown Hagerstown won the sixth- and seventh-grade spelling contests.

Kevin Roberts, 14, who lives near Sandy Hook, correctly spelled "savorous" and "Pisces" to win the eighth-grade competition and a free trip to Washington to compete in the national spelling bee.

Roberts, who also won a dictionary, a $100 U.S. Savings Bond, a trophy, a gift certificate and computer software, said he wasn't nervous during the contest.

He said the only word he almost misspelled was "interfering." Roberts almost said "e" instead of "i" in the "ing," he said.

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After seven rounds, Roberts and fellow home-schooled student Benjamin Martin were the last of 21 eighth-graders remaining.

Martin was tripped up by the word "cogitate."

Robert May, 12, of Hagerstown won the seventh-grade competition. The St. Mary's School student's last two words were "apparition" and "selenian."

For May, preparation paid off.

"I studied and studied until I couldn't study any more," May said.

May came out of a hotly contested spelling bee, where he and two other students spent several rounds knocking each other off, only to let each other back into the contest.

This is because in spelling bees the winner has to be the only one to spell their word correctly in the final head-to-head round. Then to seal the victory they have to spell one more word correctly in a solo round.

A misspelling in the solo round brings back the contestants who were just knocked out.

Matthew Knotts, 11, of Hagerstown won the sixth-grade competition.

Knotts, who also attends Saint Mary's, correctly spelled "interviewee" and "guaranteed," to win.

Saint Mary's School Principal Sister Maria Goretti said: "Before coming here we told them 'you're a winner just for going in this.' ... We're very proud of all these children."

The spelling bee was organized and sponsored by The Herald-Mail Co.

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