WASHINGTON- Netiquette. Triskaidekaphobia. Supererogatory.
Most people would have a hard time spelling those words,and maybe even pronouncing them properly. But Caitlin Campbell,12,of Amarillo,Texas,was here last week to try.
She's competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee and faced those words on a written test June 1. It is Caitlin's first time in the national competition.
In addition to spelling almost impossible words,competitors ages 9 to 15,must do so in front a large audience. In its 77th year,the bee began with 265 spellers from around the world. Each year,spellers gather to compete for an array of prizes,including a $12,000 first-place prize.
“I thought that eventually she would win the regional competition,but I did not think it would be this year,” said Joette Campbell,Caitlin's mother.
To make it to the national competition,Caitlin competed at her school,on the county level and regional level.
The three-day competition consists of Round 1,a written test competitors took June 1,followed by Round 2,the more-traditional oral competition June 2. Competitors will find out after Round 2 if they will proceed to Round 3,also June 2. Only one-third of the spellers will move to Round 3,after the results of the written test are combined with the spellers' first oral round.
“I did pretty good on the written test. If I spell my first word correctly tomorrow then I should advance,” Caitlin said.
This year's competion will be done with a new set of rules. In previous years,there has not been a time limit for spelling a word. A two-minute time limit has been introduced into this year's spelling bee.
Caitlin has prepared for the competition by studying the Paideia,a book of complicated words that many spellers use,as well as studying words from last year's competition.
“I studied for about an hour every night,” said Caitlin.
Caitlin,a straight-A sixth grader at Austin Middle School,is a member of the school's gifted and talented program. The program allows her to take pre-advanced-placement math courses,although her favorite subjects are science and sociology.
She also plays the piano and sings in a regional honors choir.
I've been playing the piano since elementary school,and now I take lessons from a professor at the local community college,” Caitlin said.
Competitor number 222,Caitlin has an interesting way to pass the time until it is her turn to spell.
“I spell the words that other kids get in my head,and then I write it on my arm to help me visualize,” Caitlin said.
Caitlin's goal is to make it to the third round of the competition.
“If I am able to be on ESPN,then I am happy,” said Caitlin. ESPN2 will broadcast Round 4 from 5 to 7 p.m. EDT June 2 and part of the final round June 3 from 10 a.m. to noon. ESPN will broadcast the final round from 1 to 4 p.m. EDT June 3.
Although Caitlin hopes to make it far into the competition,there is a bright side if she doesn't.
“If I don't make it to the third round that gives me more time to sightsee,” she said.