NATIONAL HARBOR,Md. – Victoria Epstein,14,of Flour Bluff Junior High School in Corpus Christi,Texas,didn’t qualify for the semifinals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee,ending her participation after two rounds of spelling onstage.
She missed the cutoff score by two points.
“The goal was to make it to the semifinal,but I still feel good because I got here,” Victoria said.
She spelled “ephemeral,” which means briefly or only a day, and “akamai,” which means clever,correctly in Rounds 2 and 3,but missed six words in the computer test she took Tuesday. She earned 30 points,but needed 32.
Of the 281 spellers who started Tuesday,41 were named semifinalists. One of the disqualified spellers has claimed he correctly spelled a word on the written test that was counted wrong. Bee officials are considering his appeal.
“If we would have just a little more time to study,we could have done more vocabulary,” Midge Epstein,Victoria’s mother,said.
Yet,Epstein and Victoria were happy,even this is the second year in a row that Victoria has come to the bee but failed to get into the semifinals.
“I’m very proud of her to be here when 11 million kids participated in bees,and only 281 made it here,” Epstein,who won a school spelling bee in new Orleans when she was in eighth grade,said. “To only miss six questions out of all of these hard questions is amazing.”
Victoria competed in her first school bee in the fifth grade just for fun,and didn’t think about the National Spelling Bee until last year. She said her biggest lesson from the bee is that age doesn’t matter.
“You’re never too young to start because I came here only in seventh grade,” Victoria said. “I see all these people here that are really little. I would encourage schools to start earlier.”
Victoria,who wants to be a doctor,never liked the bee for the competition,but for the final feeling of achievement.
“I feel like I’ve done something really great,” Victoria said.
“I think it will help her to realize that if you set a goal and you work hard you can achieve it,and it also teaches that if you have a goal you need to commit yourself to doing what it takes,” Epstein said. “Sometimes people have goals but they are not willing to do what it takes to achieve it,and then it’s just a dream. But if you have a dream and you have the discipline,you can achieve it.”
The Scripps National Spelling bee is administered on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Co. of Cincinnati. The winner will receive a $30,000 cash prize and a trophy,a $2,500 U.S. savings bond from Merriam-Webster and $2,000 in reference books from Encyclopaedia Britannica. All 281 spellers in the bee win $100 VISA gift card,with other prizes up to $12,000 for second place.
The semifinals on Thursday will be live on ESPN2 from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.,and the finals will be broadcast live on ESPN at 8 p.m.
Reach reporter Barbara Corbellini Duarte at [email protected] or 202-326-9866. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.