The precocious upstart who, nevertheless, still gets what being 6 is all about. The Little League baseball champ who understands compassion. And the mathlete who dreams of the day when she can star on Broadway.
They are a sampling of who will represent the DMV at this year’s Scripps National Spelling Bee, which began Tuesday with a written exam and will heat up with a preliminary round Wednesday and the semi-finals and finals on Thursday.
Wednesday’s action is carried online-only, on ESPN 3, but Thursday’s coverage will go primetime on ESPN.
In this case, the 6-year-old who hopes to shock the world – at least all the way to the semifinals – is Lori Anne Madison of Woodbridge, Va; Jae Canetti, 10, of Reston, Va., is as good at taking at-bats as he is swatting away judges’ queries; and Olivia Nicole Simmons, 13, of Annapolis, Md., hopes to wow as an actress on New York stages someday.
They’ll take their shots at spelling words like such as, “cymotrichous,” “stromuhr,” and “Laodicean” — the words that the last three winners spelled to clinch $30,000 and all the glory.
Although the bee is not a sport in the traditional sense, ESPN for years has embraced the event’s excitement and competitive spirit, carrying the action live and showcasing the finalists’ individual stories.
Mix bright lights, discerning judges, nervous parents and precocious children in a cauldron of a ballroom and the red glare of a well-placed TV camera. Stir in that ominous microphone breathing, followed by hold-your-breath silence. Tension and storyline will surely result.
The first question, of course, is how will the 6-year-old fare against those who are mostly twice her age? (About 85 percent of competitors are between the ages of 12-14, according to bee organizers).
Aside from the spellers above, here’s a list of a few other locals to keep your eye on. The information comes from the 278 contestants’ posted bios.
Speller No. 261, Luke A. Thornburgh: 12 years old, home schooled, from Purcellville, Va., sixth grade. “Luke enjoys solving the Rubik’s Cube (once in only 48 seconds) and excels in mathematics.”
Speller No. 36, Tuli Jahan Bennett-Bose: 12 years old, Oyster-Adams Bilingual School, Washington, D.C. , seventh grade. “Her role model is Mahatma Gandhi because he produced change without violence.”
Speller No. 104, Reid Aleksander FitzHugh: 13 years old, Julius West Middle School, Rockville, Md., eighth grade. “He hopes to someday have a career as a video game designer like Shigeru Miyamoto, the person he would most like to meet.”
Speller No. 105, Jack Nolan: 13, Mayfield Woods Middle School, Elkridge, Md., eighth grade. “In the future, Jack would like to put that knowledge to work as a computer programmer for NASA.”
Speller No. 110, Sydney Christley: 13, Matthew Henson Middle School, Indian Head, Md., seventh grade. “She is of Greek heritage and is happy to have traveled to both Greece and Paris.”