South­ern Mary­land spell­ers swept from na­tional level

291 chil­dren com­pete for the ti­tle dur­ing Bee Week

Maryland Independent - - Front Page - By JAC­QUI ATKIELSKI jatkiel­ski@somd­

With their fate rest­ing by the ding of a bell, three South­ern Mary­land spell­ers en­tered round three Wed­nes­day af­ter­noon at the 90th an­nual Scripps Na­tional Spell­ing Bee at Na­tional Har­bor.

Charles County’s speller, Mil­ton M. Somers Mid­dle School eighth-grader Ha­ley Elizabeth Pay­ton, 14, said prior to round two she was pretty ner­vous, but “I kinda re­laxed af­ter I spelled my word.”

Keysha Pay­ton, Ha­ley’s mother, said she had been study­ing for the na­tional spell­ing bee for about two months.

Ha­ley Pay­ton said any­one who wants to spell “should look at med­i­cal and sci­en­tific words. That helped me a lot.” Her sec­ond-round word was “flo­ri­legium” and she missed her third round word, “li­cen­tious.”

The St. Mary’s win­ner ad­vanced through the first three rounds, but missed the fi­nal­ist

mark by eight points. Ch­e­sa­peake Pub­lic Char­ter School eighth-grader An­nalee D. John­son, 13, said this was her first time spell­ing at the na­tional level. Her sec­ond-round word was “si­mo­ni­a­cal” and her thir­dround word was “ur­banely.” She said she felt more calm on stage at the na­tional level than at the St. Mary’s County bee back in March. “There were fewer words I had to study [for round two] and I felt more pre­pared,” John­son said.

While round two was com­posed of a 400-word list dis­trib­uted to spell­ers in early May, the third round’s words were ex­panded to all the en­tries in the Mer­riam-Web­ster unabridged on­line dic­tio­nary, said Paige Kim­ble, Scripps Na­tional Spell­ing Bee ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor. She said this is the 90th year the spell­ing bee has taken place and “we started out with 291 spell­ers” at the be­gin­ning of the week; 259 spell­ers were left to go into the third round, and “no more than 50 spell­ers will go on to com­pete in round four,” which was held on Thurs­day morn­ing, she said.

Katie John­son, An­nalee John­son’s mother, said, “They only took the top 40 this year [and the cut­off scores for the fi­nal­ists] was 29.” Her daugh­ter had a score of 21.

Each word spelled cor­rectly is worth three points, and the rest of the score is de­ter­mined by a writ­ten vo­cab­u­lary and spell­ing test in round one. De­spite her score, she thought she did “pretty well for the spell­ing, but the vo­cab­u­lary was re­ally hard,” An­nalee John­son said.

An­nalee cred­ited her par­ents with help­ing her pre­pare, and her English teacher for help­ing her with “lists and lists of words at lunch and re­cess,” she said.

Katie John­son said she wanted to thank South­ern Mary­land News­pa­pers and the St. Mary’s pub­lic school of­fi­cials for spon­sor­ing her daugh­ter and help­ing her get to the na­tional level.

Plum Point Mid­dle School eighth-grader Anna Kleist, 14, said her sec­ond-round word was “fi­bromyal­gia.”

The Calvert County spell­ing champ said she was slightly ner­vous go­ing into the sec­ond round be­cause “there were 400 words and each of them has just as much of a chance to be given to you. So you bet­ter hope you get one that you’re sure of.”

Kleist said fu­ture com­peti­tors should study pre­fixes and suf­fixes, or the sets of let­ters that are added to the be­gin­ning or end of an­other word. “Us­ing other lan­guages, like lan­guage classes at school or singing in a dif­fer­ent lan­guage def­i­nitely helps,” she said. “And read­ing, of course.”

Sandy Kleist, Anna’s mother, said be­ing able to par­tic­i­pate in the spell­ing bee is a great ex­pe­ri­ence and an honor. She said she wanted to thank The Calvert Recorder and Calvert pub­lic schools for spon­sor­ing and help­ing her daugh­ter get to the na­tional level.

Anna Kleist said she felt ex­cited and slightly ner­vous about round three, where she missed her word, “id­i­olect.”

“I’ve had a lot of fun this year, be­ing here,” she said.

St. Fran­cis de Sales Catholic School eighth-grader Erin Marie Welch, 14, of Princess Anne, said prior to the third round that she wasn’t sure if she was go­ing to make it and “get my word right.”

Her sec­ond-round word was “samar­ium,” and she cor­rectly spelled “re­tractable” in the third round. Welch said she was also con­cerned about her round-one pre­lim­i­nary test score. Dur­ing the third round, she asked the judges if her word was from the Latin root word for trace.

Welch sur­vived round three but her mother, So­phie Welsh, said her daugh­ter didn’t make the fi­nals “but this has been a great ex­pe­ri­ence be­yond the words.” She said she is “truly grate­ful for this once-in-a-life­time opportunity.”

“This is my first time at na­tion­als,” Erin Welsh said. “I’ve been com­pet­ing in spell­ing bees since the fourth grade. I didn’t make it last year, but I’ve been to the re­gional spell­ing bee for four years.”


Mil­ton M. Somers eighth grader Ha­ley Elizabeth Pay­ton spells on Wed­nes­day “li­cen­tious” dur­ing round three.


Ch­e­sa­peake Pub­lic Char­ter School eighth grader An­nalee D. John­son spells Wed­nes­day the word “si­mo­ni­a­cal” dur­ing the sec­ond round.

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