WASHINGTON – Before Katherine Kappelmann heard the word “eucrasia” slip off the lips of the pronouncer at the 78th Annual Scripps National Spelling bee Wednesday,she had heard it from her mother on their flight here.
Katherine slowly begin spelling,“e-u-c-h-r-a-s-i-a,” completely forgetting about her mother's advice on Greek origins. The word means a mixture of the humors in good proportions or good health.
“We had discussed on the plane how we would know if it was ‘ch' or not,” said Katherine,11,of San Angelo,Texas.
After the correct spelling of the word was given,Katherine returned to her seat feeling very disappointed in herself. “It was just sort of like I blew it,” she said.
Katherine said she spent more time enjoying her passion for music than preparing for the National Spelling Bee.
“I play the harp and piano,” she said,“so I put those things above the spelling bee.”
Her mother agreed: “We approached it with a low-key attitude.”
Katherine faced 272 other contestants.
The first round was a 25-word,written test that included words such as “scherenschnitte,” which means the art of cutting paper into decorative designs; “thelytokous,” which means producing only females; and “Rorschach,” which is the name of a personality test that uses ink blots.
Katherine said she scored about 12 points out of 25 on the written test. Spellers could earn 3 points for a correct spelling in Round 2 and needed 22 points to advance to Round 3.
“Her score on the written test didn't reflect her ability. It reflected her being nervous,” said Katherine's mother,Yvonne Kappelmann.
Katherine said her experience in Washington has been wonderful. She said she plans to put more time into studying for next year's competition.
“If she wants to study and do better another year,I am completely behind her,” said her mother,a former English teacher who has home-schooled Katherine,“although she may have to compete with another sibling next year.”
Katherine has two brothers and two sisters.
The bee continues Thursday with a champion expected by late afternoon. ESPN will televise the final rounds from 10 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. EDT.