Area student still spelling at national bee

Spellers survive first rounds to make it finals

By JESSE J. HOLLAND

Associated Press Writer

A seventh-grade student from the Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District has now made it to the semi-finals of the 2000 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C.

Katrina Shankland is among 110 students who survived the opening rounds of the spelling bee yesterday.

Shankland was able to spell correctly three words: Vinaigrette in round 1, illegible in round 2 and medulla in round 3.

Today the semi-finalists got down to business to find out who is the best speller in America.

This morning in round 4, she correctly spelled "echinacea."

Shankland and the others will continue to spell until 35 students remain, who will then begin the finals, which are being broadcast on ESPN live beginning at noon.

The feelings were friendly, sometimes even jovial among the survivors of the opening rounds of the 2000 Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.

The first 138 children were eliminated from the 73rd bee Wednesday after 10 hours of quizzing. By the end of the third round, the youngsters, ages 9 to 15, had mastered or failed to master 597 words, organizers said.

Words spelled correctly included "acquiesced," meaning accepted or complied tacitly or passively; words that stumped the young spelling aces included "klinotaxis," defined as directional orientation involving turning toward a stimulus; "areology," the scientific study of the planet Mars; or "glottogonic," which means of or relating to the origin of language.

As the survivors went back to their seats, they high-fived each other and beamed out at proud parents. And even though many were sweating under the bright lights and pressure of the hotel ballroom of the Grand Hyatt, some youngsters found time for humor.

"Can I have a lifeline please? I'd like to call a friend," quipped Amy Bitely, using the now-familiar line from the television game show "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?"

But when it came to spelling "halieutics," the art or practice of fishing, the 13-year-old from Masontown, W.Va., was on her own. Her answer: "haleutax."

Kyle Thomas Brown of Wind Gap, Pa., had problems with his French, struggling over the pronunciation of "dansant," an informal dance. The crowd and even Brown laughed at his attempts, but he spelled the word correctly.

"There's one person who knows how I feel," quipped Alex Cameron, the bee's official pronouncer for 20 years. That wasn't lost on the next contestant.

"Why couldn't you have given me a French word?" moaned Michael Hartwell of Middletown, Pa., when he faced "febrifugal," which mean mitigating or removing fever. But he got it right anyway and advanced to the final round.

Brown was eliminated in the second round on the word "nepotism."

Many of the contestants stumbled on difficult words such as "duodenary," a term for anything containing 12 items, and "trophallaxis," which refers to how social insects exchange food.

First-round words were taken from a 3,500-word study booklet designed by Scripps Howard and from the word lists most sponsors use at their local bees. But for the final rounds, words are taken from Webster's Third New International Dictionary and its addenda, which contain more than 460,000 words.

The contestants, most sponsored by their local newspapers, all won regional bees to qualify. The top prize is $10,000, a choice of encyclopedias and other awards. Scripps Howard, the newspaper group based in Cincinnati, coordinates the national finals and produces the word lists and study materials.

On the Net: The spelling bee site is: http://www.spellingbee.com

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