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55 Washington County students compete to be best spellers

Eighth-grade spelling bee winner was last year's seventh-grade winner

March 19, 2011|By DAN DEARTH | dan.dearth@herald-mail.com
  • Tyler Reese correctly spelled "babushka" to win Saturday's 2010-11 Washington County Spelling Bee. He is an eighth-grader at Heritage Academy.
By Kevin G. Gilbert

Tyler Reese wasn't going to let an old Russian woman stand between him and a shot at representing Washington County this year at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Reese, an eighth-grader at Heritage Academy, took a deep breath and said, "Babushka, B - A - B - U - S - H - K - A, Babushka."

His correct spelling of the word during the final round of Saturday's 2010-11 Washington County Spelling Bee not only solidified him as the local champion, but punched his ticket to compete in June at the National Bee in Washington, D.C.

"I don't even know what a babushka is," Reese said after he won the title. "But I know how to spell it."

About 55 Washington County sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders competed Saturday afternoon at Western Heights Middle School for a chance to be named the best speller in their respective grade level.

Hancock Middle School student Connor Ottaviano spelled "parfait" in the final round to win the sixth-grade championship, while Boonsboro Middle School seventh-grader Grace Li finished atop her class by spelling "quiche." The winning eighth-grader advances to the nationals.

Li misspelled "homonym" and had to leave the stage in the fourth round of the seventh-grade competition, but was asked to come back when the two other remaining students in that round also missed their words.

But after the other two competitors — Springfield Middle School students Christie Bennett and Hadley Giles — erred on their words in the fifth round, Li correctly spelled "quiche" to win the championship.

"I totally messed up," Li said of faltering in the fourth round. "I was really mad at myself. I thought there wouldn't be any chance of getting first place. I was really surprised I had another chance."

Reese said he plans to study for about two hours each night until the National Spelling Bee begins June 1.

"I will study often and very hard," Reese said. "I'm kind of nervous because it will be the nationals."

Reese said he will enlist the services of his younger brothers, Evan and Colby, to test his knowledge.

Reese's mother, Heather, said her other sons helped their brother prepare earlier this month for the Washington County Spelling Bee. She said it was a coincidence that Evan and Tyler practiced "babushka" just moments before the spelling bee began.

"I'm just so proud of him and so happy for him," Heather said of Tyler's accomplishment.

Saturday marked Tyler Reese's second spelling bee championship. He won the seventh-grade title last year.

The winner of each category was awarded a trophy, a medal, a dictionary and a year's subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica Online.

The Washington County Spelling Bee was sponsored by Antietam Cable, Hagerstown Honda, Hagerstown KIA, Inn Boonsboro, Rotary International, The Herald-Mail, Turn the Page Bookstore, Vesta Pizzeria & Family Restaurant and Younger automotive.

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