Winning is in speller's 'repertoire'

March 10, 2003|by JULIE E. GREENE

Spell "Qadri."

Try W-I-N-N-E-R.

Umar Qadri won the 24th annual Washington County Spelling Bee for eighth-graders on Saturday by correctly spelling "repertoire." He will go on to compete in the 76th annual Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee May 28-29 in Washington, D.C.

Thankfully, "repertoire" was among the repertoire of words Umar practiced with his older brother, Usama.

When Umar first heard the word "repertoire" in Western Heights Middle School's auditorium, he didn't remember how to spell it, the Smithsburg Middle School student said.

Then he remembered how he spelled it to his brother during practice, said Umar, 13, of Hagerstown.

Umar also heeded his brother's advice. "He told me to always ask questions until you know how to spell the word," Umar said.


Usama should know. He won last year's county spelling bee and made it to the fourth round in the national spelling bee.

"You've got the spelling gene in your family," Herald-Mail Co. Publisher John League told Umar. As sponsor of the event, The Herald-Mail provides an all-expenses-paid trip for Umar and a guardian to the national bee.

Umar is the son of Dr. Samina Anwar and Anwar Qadri.

Umar said he studied the paideia - the book of words that could appear in the spelling bee - for 30 to 45 minutes a day for two weeks and had Usama review the words with him.

On his way to winning, Umar correctly spelled "library," "posse," "calzone," "piata," "strudel," "anxieties," "janiform," "magenta," "conglomerate," "feasible" and "quadrilingual."

Umar was the only competitor in all three spelling bees Saturday to spell all his words correctly.

Both the sixth- and seventh-grade bees came down to two competitors repeating rounds until one of them spelled two consecutive words right.

When the first of the finalists spelled a word wrong, that student would wait at the back of the stage to see how the other finalist did. When the other finalist misspelled his or her word, another round began for the finalists.

The winner must spell the word in that round correctly, then spell an additional word right. Some spelling bees have the finalist spell the misspelled word and then an additional word.

Julia Friedrich, 12, of Keedysville, won the seventh-grade competition and Ben L. Baker, 11, who lives between Sharpsburg and Downsville, won the sixth-grade contest.

Julia won by correctly spelling "pyrosis." The Boonsboro Middle School student said she figured out how to spell "pyrosis" by remembering how "pyromaniac" is spelled.

"I picture a word and I think of words in that, or words that looked like that," Julia said.

"I was just thinking it would never end. My only goal was to make it through a few rounds. I'd be happy to be second," Julia said.

Julia said she was nervous, but not as nervous as last year when she failed to make it past the first round of her school's spelling bee. The word she tripped over then was "appetite." Julia said she was ready for it this year, but that word never came up.

Julia said she wouldn't have made it this far without the support of schoolmates David Lehman and eighth-grader Ana Jantz, who also were bee contestants Saturday.

Julia is the daughter of Petra Friedrich of Keedysville and Michael Meurer of Frederick, Md.

Ben, a student at Springfield Middle School, won by correctly spelling "unadulterated."

Ben said he was nervous, but he managed to keep cool.

"I was pretty confident," Ben said.

Ben studied by himself as well as with his parents, Laurie and Chuck Baker.

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