Lo­cal bee champs ready to S-P-E-L-L

Maryland Independent - - Community Forum -

The 2016 Scripps Na­tional Spell­ing Bee starts to­day at the Na­tional Har­bor, and three South­ern Mary­land mid­dle school stu­dents are set to com­pete. Along with their proud par­ents, spell­ing coaches and teach­ers, the Mary­land In­de­pen­dent en­cour­ages the lo­cal com­mu­nity to be­come “spell­ing cheer­lead­ers” for our re­gion’s cham­pion spell­ers — seventh-grader Anna Kleist of Plum Point Mid­dle, eighth-grader Ni­cholas Gal­la­gos of John Han­son Mid­dle and eighth-grader Mark Beaulieu of Spring Ridge Mid­dle — as they face off against some of the bright­est stu­dents in the coun­try this week.

Through­out to­day and to­mor­row, 285 spell­ers will com­pete for the ti­tle of na­tional spell­ing bee cham­pion, and the pub­lic is in­vited to watch and root for their lo­cal spell­ers as the bee is broad­cast live. Pre­lim­i­nar­ies, in­clud­ing a spell­ing test and two rounds of com­pe­ti­tion, start at 8 a.m. to­day and will be streamed live on ESPN3. Fi­nals will be live on ESPN2 at 10 a.m. Thurs­day, May 26, and will con­tinue again at 8 p.m. live on ESPN.

Many com­peti­tors will not move past the pre­lim­i­nar­ies, but the fact that they even made it this far speaks vol­umes to their skills, smarts and ded­i­ca­tion. Their jour­neys to this point are noth­ing short of re­mark­able:

Calvert County’s Kleist tri­umphed af­ter a lo­cal record-break­ing 16 rounds of spell­ing at the county bee in March. She man­aged to hold her own for five of those rounds against an­other fierce com­peti­tor, be­tween the two of them spell­ing words like “in­sel­berg,” “ei­der­down” and “spring­bok.” Gal­la­gos, of Charles County, won his county’s bee with the word “az­imuth”; his coach said he rarely mis­spells a word, and his mother shared that he taught him­self to read at age 4. And Beaulieu, of St. Mary’s County, will re­turn to the na­tional bee for the sec­ond time, af­ter com­ing out on top in his county’s bee for the past two years.

With­out a doubt, these are bril­liant South­ern Mary­land stu­dents who have earned their place on the na­tional stage. What­ever this week brings for each of them, we al­ready count them as win­ners. To­day and to­mor­row, we ea­gerly cheer them on, and we in­vite the com­mu­nity to join us in show­ing sup­port for our hard­work­ing and ta­lented tri-county spell­ers.

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