Washington County spelling champ said national bee a positive experience

Grace Li did not advance to semifinals, despite spelling both words correctly in onstage competition

May 30, 2012|By DAVE McMILLION |
  • Boonsboro Middle School student Grace Li represented Washington County in the National Spelling Bee.
By Ric Dugan/Staff photographer

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — Washington County spelling bee champion Grace Li won't be among the 50 semifinalists competing Thursday in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Despite the outcome, Grace, who learned about her finish in the competition about 6 p.m., Wednesday said the experience was a positive one.

“I met a lot of people from around the country and outside the country,” said Grace, who was sponsored by The Herald-Mail Co.

Grace, a 14-year-old student at Boonsboro Middle School, said among the inspirational stories she took from the event was the efforts of a 6-year-old competitor, the youngest ever to compete.

Grace said she scored 13 in round 1 of the competition. After correctly spelling “rambla” in round 2 on Wednesday and “eigenvalue” in round 3, she ended up with a total score of 19, Grace said.

Rambla is defined as “a dry ravine, or the dry bed of an ephemeral stream.” Eigenvalue is “the change in magnitude of a vector that does not change in direction under a given linear transformation; a scalar factor by which an eigenvector is multiplied under such a transformation.”

Grace’s mother, Xiaorong “Sharon” Yin, said she told her daughter before the competition that she just needed to do her best.

“Whatever happens, we just need to take it,” Yin recalled telling her daughter.

Grace wore headphones in round 1 so she could hear the words presented. She was asked to type 50 words, but only 25 counted toward her first-round score.

In preliminary rounds on Wednesday, all 278 spellers spelled on-stage during rounds 2 and 3 at the competition held at the Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center in National Harbor, Md., south of Washington, D.C.

At the conclusion of round 3, contest officials determined the semifinalists.

Spellers received one point for each word spelled correctly in round 1 and three points for each word spelled correctly in rounds 2 and 3, for a maximum possible score of 31.

Spellers scoring higher than at least 228 other spellers advanced to the semifinals.

The semifinals will air live Thursday on ESPN2, and the finals will be aired live Thursday night on ESPN.

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