Southern Maryland students fall short of finals
National Spelling Bee drew 284 top spellers from around nation, world
Competing against some of the top spellers in the United States and abroad, the St. Mary’s and Calvert County Spelling Bee winners fell in round three of the 89th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee, while the Charles County winner advanced through the first three rounds, only to fall short of the points needed to continue on to Thursday’s finals.
“I did my best, and I’m pretty satisfied with it,” said Nicholas Gallegos, 14, of Brandywine, after the results were announced. Gallegos, an eighth grade student from John Hanson Middle School in Waldorf, won the Charles County Spelling Bee in February.
Two hundred eightyfour top spellers ages 15 and younger, from across the United States and 11 U.S. territories and other countries, each champions of their local spelling bees, competed for the
Scripps National Spelling Bee championship title this week.
On Tuesday, each contestant took a multiple choice spelling and vocabular y test divided into four sections, worth up to 30 points.
On Wednesday, all contestants competed in two rounds of spelling on stage. Each correctly spelled word provided the speller three points.
Those incorrectly spelling a word were immediately eliminated from the competition. Following the morning round, 251 contestants remained, including those from Charles, St. Mary’s and Calvert counties.
Words used in round two came from a 400-word list which was sent to students May 5, said Paige Kimble, executive director of the Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Last year, only four spellers misspelled in round two. This year, 33 contestants did not pass to the afternoon round.
“This year, we upped the challenge in round two,” Kimble said.
The words given in the afternoon’s Round Three came from Webster’s Third International Dictionary, which includes 476,000 words, Kimble said.
“It’s coming directly from the dictionary rather than the word lists they memorized,” Kimble said. “There’s more of a challenge to it even though the words may appear easier.”
Round three saw another 80 competitors eliminated, which still left 171 competitors by the end of the afternoon.
Points earned on the test and the two rounds of spelling were added together to determine a final score for the first three rounds and the top 45 scorers moved on to the final round Thursday, with the winner determined after press time Thursday night.
Gallegos correctly spelled “nephrolith” in round two and “fraternize” in round three, but the eighth grader from John Hanson Middle School in Waldorf didn’t score high enough on the written test to proceed to the finals.
Gallegos said he was glad just to take part in the National Spelling Bee.
“Just being here really is the best. Not many people make it this far,” Gallegos said.
“We’re just proud of him for getting this far,” added his mother Kim Gallegos. “It’s been a great experience.”
Gallegos was sponsored by the Maryland Independent.
Mark Beaulieu, 13, of Callaway correctly spelled “remontant” in round two but fell in round three when he misspelled “deference.”
For Beaulieu, an eighth grader at Spring Ridge Middle School in Lexington Park, this was his second time competing in the National Spelling Bee, and he said he was more relaxed this time.
“Last year I was nervous, I started shaking. I was scared, well not scared, but really nervous about being on national television,” Beaulieu said. “Now I felt a lot less nervous. I mean, I was nervous about spelling the word, but not about my appearance or being on television.”
Beaulieu said the experience was very important to him.
“I would not trade this experience for any cash prize or anything. This experience has been amazing; meeting all these really nice spellers, to just hang and do what I love, which is spelling,” Beaulieu said.
Beaulieu said he plans to attend high school and college as a dual enrolled student, majoring in computer science and cybersecurity.
Beaulieu was sponsored by The Enterprise newspaper in St. Mary’s County.
His mother Sandi Beaulieu wanted to thank the newspaper for sponsoring them.
“We feel so lucky to live somewhere where we have a sponsor and have the opportunity to go. It’s not a God-given right, and we are so grateful to have this,” Sandi Beaulieu said.
Anna Kleist, 12, of Prince Frederick correctly spelled “hippocratic” in round two but the seventh grader from Plum Point Middle School in Huntingtown misspelled “spontaneity” in round three.
Kleist said the experience has been a lot of fun and she’s made new friends from all over the country.
“It’s been amazing. It’s been so much fun, all the activities are great, all the people are so nice, and I’m really excited to be here,” Kleist said. “This is going to be something I’m going to remember for the rest of my life.”
“We’re very proud of her accomplishments,” added her father, Doug Kleist.
Kleist was sponsored by The Calvert Recorder in Prince Frederick.
Kimble said that even though one competitor walks away with the win, all of the students participating gain from the experience.
“They make friends here and they walk away with a broad network of friends that they retain in the years to come,” Kimble said.
Round two and round three were aired live on ESPN3. The finals were aired live on ESPN2 and ESPN.
The first National Spelling Bee took place in 1925 with nine contestants. The E.W. Scripps Company took ownership of the bee in 1941. The bee has been held continuously since 1946, having been postponed for three years prior due to World War II.
Nicholas Gallegos, 14, of Brandywine, an eighth-grader at John Hanson Middle School, Anna Kleist, 12, of Prince Frederick, a seventh-grader at Plum Point Middle School, and Mark Beaulieu, 13, of Callaway, an eighth-grader at Spring Ridge Middle School, each spell a word at the Scripps National Spelling Bee Wednesday.