Gia wants to help her younger sister, Ava, 11, advance to nationals next year.
“Gia has inspired her sister a lot,” Ninevetch Bautista, their mother, said. “I think she will be a very good coach and role model for her.”
For the past two years, Gia and Ava, both from Salisbury, Md., have competed against each other in the Eastern Shore region of Maryland for a chance at the bee. Though Gia has won out both times, next year she will be too old to compete in the bee.
The Wicomico Middle School eighth-grader spelled both words correctly on stage during Rounds 2 and 3 of the competition Wednesday, but she said the written spelling and vocabulary test that she took Tuesday is what held her back.
“The vocabulary is difficult for a lot of spellers,” Gia said. “I would help my sister study that.”
Gia’s Round 2 word, “piccolo,” which is a small flute that plays one octave higher than a regular flute, was familiar to the young musician. She’s been playing flute for three years and piano for seven.
She scribbled her Round 3 word, “ohelo,” which is a Hawaiian blueberry, onto her hand on stage.
Gia plans to stick around for the competition Thursday to support some of her new friends who remain in the bee.
All 283 spellers appeared on stage Wednesday morning for Round 2, the first oral round. Only four spellers missed their words, and were out of the bee. By the end of Round 3 in the afternoon, 214 spellers remained. In both rounds, all the words came from a list of 1,000 study words.
At the close of Round 3, bee officials combined the scores earned by spellers in Tuesday’s written test and points earned spelling on stage to choose 49 semifinalists. After taking a second written test Wednesday evening, they will compete Thursday beginning at 10 a.m. EDT on ESPN2.
The finals will air Thursday at 8 p.m. EDT on ESPN. The winner takes home $35,000 in cash, a trophy and other prizes. All of the spellers were given Microsoft Surface 3 tablet computers to close Wednesday’s program.
Reach reporter Kathleen Devaney at [email protected] or 202-408-1494. SHFWire stories are free to any news organization that gives the reporter a byline and credits the SHFWire.