WASHINGTON,May 31 – Thirteen-year-old Marissa Shoji was eliminated in Round 6 of the 80th Scripps National Spelling Bee's semifinals Thursday afternoon after misspelling “beurre,” French for butter.
Politely asking for the word's language of origin,alternate pronunciations and definition,Marissa,an eighth grader at Cincinnati Hills Christian Academy,incorrectly spelled “b-i-r-r,” a homonym of “beurre.”
Still,Marissa,an active reader,swimmer and cross-country runner,never ceased to maintain a high level of enthusiasm,even as she was disqualified. She thanked the judges with a smile on her face and gracefully exited the stage.
Marissa and her mother were not available for an interview after she left the competition.
Despite Marissa's sixth-round flop,she performed well in the first rounds of the semifinals,as well as in the quarterfinals and preliminaries.
After lowering the microphone to suit her short stature,she folded her hands and took a deep breath. Upon hearing her fifth round word,she asked for its definition and language of origin,pretending to write it out on her arm. Then,she correctly spelled “butyraldehyde,” a clear,colorless,flammable liquid.
Marissa also correctly spelled “circumbendibus,” Latin for an indirect or roundabout course,and “inertia” in the quarterfinals to advance to the bee's semifinals. She earned a high score in the 25-item multiple choice written test,which she took during the preliminary rounds.
The bee began Wednesday with 286 spellers,a record. Just 59 made it to the semifinals,and 15 advanced to the championship round.
Thursday morning's rounds were broadcast live on ESPN,and the finals were to air Thursday at 8 pm on ABC.
All spellers in the competition won a commemorative watch from Scripps; Webster's Third New International Dictionary on CD-ROM; a $100 savings bond; iQuest handhelds from LeapFrog; a duffle bag,T-shirt,baseball hat and $20 gift certificate from Franklin Electronic Publishers.. Marissa also won $400 for making it to the sixth round.