WASHINGTON – Fifth grader Liz M. Adetiba became comedic release for a tense audience Wednesday when she said,“Can you sing it in a song?” after being asked to spell scarabaeus.
“The word sounded like a word my music teacher said before,” the Wichita Falls,Texas,native said.
Along with 274 other spelling bee hopefuls from around the United States and several other countries,Liz competed in the 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Liz was able to figure out the prefix of the word because she recognized that “scarab” is used to describe Egyptian-style beetle jewelry. However,the root of the word became the problem.
“The first part was really easy to get,” said the 11-year-old. “The end of the word could be spelled three,four,five different ways.”
However,the way Liz spelled the word wasn't one of them. She spelled it s-c-a-r-a-b-i-u-s,and didn't progress to Round 3.
Asked if she had any hope of spelling her word,she said,“I knew it was over. … It was a do or die thing.”
Scarabaeous is defined as a large black dung beetle from countries bordering the Mediterranean. Along with one or more related beetles,it was regarded by ancient Egyptians as symbolic of resurrection or immortality.
In the first round,contestants completed a 25-word written test. For each word spelled correctly,contestants earned a point. During the second round,contestants spelled a word orally,earning three points for a correct word.
Contestants needed to earn a minimum of 21 points to progress to Round 3. Liz received 12 points on the written test.
Contestants competed for a top prize of $37,500 in cash and scholarships,along with other prizes for the champion's school sponsor and other top finishers.
Thursday's preliminary championship rounds will be televised on ESPN from noon to 3 p.m. EDT. And in a first,the championship rounds will be televised on ABC from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. EDT.
Liz studied 2 ½ hours a day to prepare.
“I've been watching the spelling bee ever since I was 2 years old on TV,” she said.
Despite the immense pressure,Liz said she enjoyed her stay here.
“It's awesome here,” Liz said. “I went sightseeing,I visited the zoo and the cathedral.”
Asked if she could had done anything differently,Liz had list.
“First,I would have bought a lot more spelling books,” Liz said. “I would have tried to learn a better technique to spell because cramming it in your brain isn't going to get you anywhere.
“I would have probably not have been so busy with after-school activities too,” Liz said.
With disappointment still on her mind,Liz said she refuses to quit.
“It was really fun,” Liz said. “I'm not gonna stop ‘til I get to the eighth grade and I'm 14 years old.” That's the upper limit for competitors.