WASHINGTON – The championship rounds of the 77th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee opened up with a sea of white June 3. Elicia Chamberlin of Wilton,N.M., and 45 others who advanced to Round 5 wore the bee's official white T-shirts as this year's national finalists.
“I really hope to repeat it again next year because that will be my last year,” said Elicia,13,who was eliminated after misspelling “coadunate.”
Elicia,who said she was disappointed,reacted calmly after placing a “G” and an “I” where a “D” and a “U” belonged. “Coadunate” means to unite or join together.
By the end of Round 5,empty seats speckled the group of what once was 46 spellers. Three empty seats separated No. 25 and No. 32. Twenty-six spellers went on the Round 6 after an hour and a half of competition.
The bee was to continue for as many rounds as necessary to find a winner by late June 3.
“I'm really curious to see who's going to win,” said Elicia,a seventh grader at Pine Hill School,during the lunch break before the start of Round 6. She said she would continue to watch the competition.
Elicia spoke briefly with a reporter for WUSA-TV,the CBS affiliate in Washington,before rushing back to sit with her mother and finish watching Round 5.
“I really think that she is a winner,” said Shannon Chamberlin,Elicia's mother.
“She told me she knew all the words,but hadn't come across the ones given to her,” Chamberlain said.
Elicia and her mother will attend the spelling bee awards banquet and visit Mount Vernon,the International Spy Museum and the Pentagon before leaving to go back home.
All week,moms and dads,brothers and sisters,aunts and uncles,grandparents and cousins who came from across the country supported their kin,wearing ribbons to signify their close connection to the bee.
Words as common as “separate,” which appeared on the written test in Round 1,did not stick around for long. “Shaviana,” was one of many words that,by Round 4,prompted remaining contestants to ask for the origin of a word,its definition,and the use of that word in a sentence.
“Shaviana” refers to items collected pertaining to writer George Bernard Shaw.
By Round 5,all contestants probed the judges further and thought longer to submit the construction of the word given to them.
Infrequently,spellers would rejoice over a word they spelled correctly with the universal “Yes!” of relief and the accompanying gesture,or throw both arms in the air as a smile revealed the release of anxiety that had audience members on the edge of their seats.
“Succenturiate,S-U-C-C-E-N-T-U-R-I-A-T-E,succenturiate,” contestant number 76 from Indiana,David Tidmarsh,spelled in Round 5. Hesitating briefly until his call was affirmed by a judge,the audience sighed and applauded.
A bell was rung seconds after the recitation of a misspelled word. The speller was then led off the stage by a guide and into the “comfort room,” where family members could privately talk with their children and if need be,console them.
An hour in any given round appeared to be longer by the looks on the faces of children left on stage. Most watched the contestant spelling at the podium. Some,like contestant No. 84,John Tamplin of Louisville,Ky. in Round 4,rested their heads on their hands. Others surveyed the audience and gave a thumbs-up or wave to their escorts.
A father read his prayer book minutes before his son rolled his wheel chair to the microphone. A mother several seats down held her tearful son,who had been eliminated in Round 4.