WASHINGTON – From now on,14-year-old Erin M. Clendaniel will always remember how to spell virgule.
“I had never heard that word before,and I had no idea how to spell it,” said Erin.
An eighth grader at Milford (Del.) Middle School,Erin was one of 265 competitors in the 77th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee. She spelled the French-derived word that means a short diagonal line between two words,as in and/or,“verguil.”
The competition began here June 1. Spellers from around the world are competing for an array of prizes,including a $12,000 cash prize.
The three-day competition consists of Round 1,a written test competitors took June 1,followed by Round 2,the more-traditional oral competition June 2. Competitors found out after Round 2 if they made it to Round 3,also June 2. Just over 90 spellers moved to Round 3,after the results of the written test were combined with the speller's first oral round.
Erin was eliminated after Round 2.
“I will go to watch the rest of the bee to support some of the friends that I made here,” said Erin. She struggled a bit to retain her composure while she was talking about spelling out but tried to appear positive.
Erin also competed in the 2003 national bee. Her identical twin,Becky,participated in the 2001 national bee,as did as their uncle in 1963.
Erin's favorite school subjects are reading and English,but she dislikes mathematics.
Not only is she an excellent speller,but Erin also plays nine instruments and is a member of the county honors band. Erin and Becky also have a garage band named “Hoodlum” that they started.
“I've been playing the piano since I was 5,and then I picked up the other instruments along the way,” said Erin.
“I think its pretty cool,” said Erin's mother,Janet Clendaniel,about the girls' band.
This national competition will be Erin's last because next year she will be too old to compete.
“We are very happy for the opportunity that our family has received. Between the twins we have been here three times,” said Clendaniel.
The legacy may continue for the Clendaniel family. Younger siblings Stefanie,10,and Robbie,8,are all interested in the spelling bee. They attended the competition.
Clendaniel gives a large amount of credit for her children's success to the Milford School System.
“They really put an emphasis on the language arts. They really do a good job,” Clendaniel said.
Although the competition may be over for Erin,she has plans for the rest of her trip to Washington.
“I think we will do some sightseeing and watch the rest of the bee,” Erin said.