But her first bee ended after Round 3 Wednesday afternoon,even though she spelled both words correctly on stage.
After Round 3,contestants and parents filled the cavernous ballroom to see which 46 lucky spellers would make it into it semifinals.
“I’m just glad I got as far as I did,” she said. “I plan to continue spelling and I’m thinking about trying for a nationals again.”
This was her first appearance at the bee. Parents,Ted and Dorota Jodlowski,were there to support their daughter and cheer her on.
“The audience may think a word is easy but the kids always think that there is more to it.” Dorota Jodlowski said. “They think it’s more difficult than what it is.”
After taking a written test Tuesday,Vanessa took the stage Wednesday morning for Round 2. As the 75th contestant she had a while to wait. But that didn’t stop her from succeeding in the round with the correct spelling of tahini,a smooth paste made from sesame seeds.
Round 3 took place Wednesday afternoon. The pronouncer,Jacques A. Bailly,gave Vanessa the word trepanation. Her mother knew Vanessa knew the word,but with dad it was a different story. Trepanation is the act of perforating the skull with a surgical instrument.
“I was nervous for her,” her father said. “If you watch the video I took,you will see it shaking because my heart was beating so fast.”
But Vanessa wasn’t worried at all. She instantly knew she was going to make it.
“I was very confident once I heard the word,” Vanessa said. “I knew it right off,how to spell it.”
After Round 3,Vanessa said she enjoyed the experience and said she might try to return next.
“I like spelling because it helps me to practice my memory,” Vanessa said. “And I can also expand my vocabulary.”
The competition began Tuesday when the spellers got a special surprise,a brand new Microsoft Surface tablet.
Spellers also received a copy of the Merriam-Webster international dictionary,a coin proof set and a one-year premium membership to Encyclopaedia Britannica. The semifinalists were also awarded a medal and a $500 gift card.
“It’s so cool,oh my gosh.” Vanessa said. “I was not expecting that at all.”
Bee officials added the score of the words spelled on stage to scores on the written test to eliminate most of the 281 original spellers.
“I think I did pretty good,because there was a lot of words I knew on there,and I’m pretty confident in my score.” Vanessa said.
Reach reporter Sydnei Fryson at [email protected] or 202-326-9861. Stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire.