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Contestant is d-e-d-i-c-a-t-e-d

May 26, 2003|By SCOTT BUTKI

scottb@herald-mail.com

Umar Qadri, 13, Washington County's candidate in this week's 76th annual Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee, has been studying harder and longer than his brother, Usama, did when he was in the national competition last year.

Umar is an eighth-grader at Smithsburg Middle School.

The opening rounds of the spelling bee in Washington, D.C., start Wednesday.

Last year, Usama made it to the fourth round in the national spelling bee.

But Usama expects his younger brother to do better and go farther.

"I think he is better. He studies more," he said.

For the last month, Umar Qadri has spent 60 to 90 minutes daily studying the list of the 250 words that contestants may be asked to spell. Usama said when he was preparing for the national competition, he studied at most an hour a day.

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"I just keep on studying until I know the words," Umar Qadri said. His brother also quizzes him and gives him tips, he said.

Their parents are Dr. Samina Anwar and Anwar Qadri.

Both children enjoyed reading from an early age and some have joked that they have a spelling gene, Anwar Qadri said.

He told both children there is no shame or embarrassment in not making it to the finals of the academic competition, he said.

"It is a tremendous pressure," Anwar Qadri said.

Umar's parents said they are impressed with how dedicated he has been. When others in his family have gone to parties and other social events, Umar has stayed home to study.

And when family friends told his parents they planned to come visit the weekend before the spelling bee, he had a simple request, which they heeded: Delay the visit.

Qadri won the 24th annual Washington County Spelling Bee for eighth-graders in March by correctly spelling "repertoire."

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

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