Local spellers not in national bee's semifinals

June 03, 2010|By HEATHER KEELS
  • Deep Vudathu,

o Scripps National Spelling Bee official site

o Definition of "pantheon"

o Definition of "balalaika"

o Definition of "tritium"

o Definition of "kielbasa"

WASHINGTON -- Smithsburg Middle School student Joanne Lee correctly spelled "pantheon" and "balalaika" Thursday, but failed to advance to the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Joanne scored 23 points in the three rounds in which she participated, falling four points shy of being one of 49 semifinalists, she said by telephone Thursday night from her room in the Grand Hyatt Washington.

"When I found out I didn't make it, I was kind of sad, but also kind of relieved because I won't have to study anymore," she said.


Joanne received three points for each word she spelled correctly Thursday. Those six points were added to her score on a computerized test she took Wednesday in the first round. The computerized test included 50 words, 25 of which were scored.

The eighth-grader said she was relieved when she was given the word "pantheon" to spell Thursday morning.

"Yes, I know this one," Joanne, 13, said she thought when she heard the word.

In the afternoon, she correctly spelled "balalaika."

"I remembered that was a word I had just studied," she said. "Right before I went (to the third round), I had seen it in the Russian section of the packet."

Deep Vudathu, a sixth-grader at South Middle School in Martinsburg, W.Va., spelled "tritium" and "kielbasa" correctly Thursday, but he, too, failed to advance to the semifinals.

Joanne said she was enjoying her stay in Washington and had seen Embassy Row, the National Gallery of Art and the National Portrait Gallery.

"It's really cool to meet all the other spellers from other states and stuff," she said.

Joanne qualified for the national bee by winning the eighth-grade competition at the Washington County Spelling Bee in March. She also won county championships as a sixth- and seventh-grader.

The Herald-Mail sponsored Joanne at the national event.

Friday's semifinal round will be televised on ESPN beginning at 10 a.m. The finals will air on ABC, beginning at 8 p.m.

The champion receives a $30,000 prize.

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