Neither Tiana Ferrante,14, from Naples,nor Nicholas Betancourt,14,from Fort Myers,will join the 41 spellers,whittled from a record 293 entrants,in the semifinals that begin Thursday.
Tiana,a home-schooled eighth-grader who has been participating in local spelling bees for three years,said that her wins make her feel great because her hard work paid off. “But losses make for good practice,” she said.
Tiana spelled both of her words perfectly in the oral rounds Wednesday but did not secure the 28 of 31 points needed to make it to the next round.
During Round Two,she confidently spelled “brawniness,” which means strong and powerful.
The third round of the competition gave Tiana some trouble. She had to repeat the word several times,stumbling on the pronunciation,before spelling “mignonette” correctly. Mignonette is a type of herb or a sauce made from the herb with vinegar and pepper.
Her parents,Steve and Renate Ferrante,sat in the audience,barely moving each time Tiana approached the microphone. When the judges nodded that she spelled the words correctly,they both smiled.
Renate Ferrante said she is excited to have her daughter participate in the Spelling Bee.
“Our goal is for our children to be as educated as possible,for them to read well and have improved vocabulary,” Ferrante said. “The Bee falls in line with us. Not us falling in line with the Bee.”
Tiana was not sad that her number wasn't among those of the 41 spellers who will move to the semifinals. “I never thought I'd make it this far. I didn't think it was possible,” Tiana said.
She said that she has broadened her vocabulary. “It was an overall great experience,” Tiana said.
Her mother said Tiana has gained a lot of confidence from participating in Spelling Bees and incorporates the new words into her daily vocabulary.
When Nicholas,an eighth-grader,watched last year's Spelling Bee on television,it sparked his interest. This year,he competed with some of the same veteran spellers he saw on TV.
“Last year I watched the Bee. This year I put my mind to it,” Nicholas said.
Nicholas said that Round One,a written test,was challenging but it was what he expected for a national spelling competition. “It took me about an hour,but I took my time to get more words correctly,” Nicholas said.
Nicholas is a straight-A student at P.L. Dunbar Middle School. To prepare for the Bee,he spent two or three hours a day studying the word list provided by the Bee.
Bob Betancourt,his father,said that he was confident that his son would do well. “The honor is to be among the top spellers,” Betancourt said.
The word “inert,” meaning slow moving,gave Nicholas a hard time during Round Two. His father,Bob Betancourt,said Nicholas hesitated,trying to decide whether the word began with an “i” or “u,” but tripped up on the consonants,adding a second “n” and spelling it “innert.”
Betancourt said that his son knew the word list for Round Three well,and that should have saved him from being eliminated early in the competition. Jessica Betancourt,his mother,remained hopeful after the misspelling.
In Round Three,Nicholas correctly spelled the word “teleran,” an electronic aid to aerial navigation by which data from radar and maps of the terrain are transmitted to aircraft by television.
Betancourt said that his son knew it would be hard to get into the finals. “The odds are against any kid going,but Nicholas will try his best,” Betancourt said.
Nicholas was not upset that he didn't make it to the next round. He said that he was excited to have made it to Nationals.
While in D.C.,the Betancourts and Ferrantes are visiting the Smithsonian Institution museums,the Capitol,monuments and other sites.
Tiana and Nicholas won commemorative watches and at least $100 from the Bee. They received Webster's Third International Dictionary,Unabridged on CD-ROM and a $100 U.S. savings bond.