Allison Grace Grygar, a 13-year-old from Scripps Ranch, will attempt today to advance to the semifinals of the 87th Scripps National Spelling Bee in National Harbor, Maryland.
Grygar took to the stage of the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center and correctly spelled diphthong, a gliding monosyllabic sound, in what is considered the bee's second round to advance to the third round, which will also be held today.
Spellers spelling the third-round word correctly can advance to Thursday's semifinals if they correctly answered enough questions on a computer- based spelling and vocabulary test administered Tuesday. The test is considered the bee's first round.
The field of 281 spellers will be reduced to a maximum of 50 following the third round.
The second and third rounds are being shown by the broadband network ESPN3, which is also showing a second "play along" version, where the word is not shown until the last second so viewers can test their spelling skills against the champion spellers.
Grygar told City News Service she did "all right" on the computer- based spelling and vocabulary test.
"It's hard to know because they won't be grading every question," Grygar said.
"It's nerve-racking not being able to control how you do as far as the grading process, but it's also kind of easy because its out of your hands. I feel pretty good."
The test consists of 24 spelling questions and 26 multiple-choice vocabulary questions, with 12 of the spelling questions and 14 of the vocabulary questions counted toward the speller's score.
"A couple of the (spelling) words I had no idea," Grygar said. "Some of them I heard multiple times."
On the vocabulary questions "there were a few words that I just had to make an educated guess about," Grygar said.
"Some of them were different forms of words I had heard before or they had similar roots," Grygar said. "I feel a little less confident about the vocabs than the spelling."
Grygar called it "a bit of a relief" to start the competition "because we've been hearing about it for so long."
The bee is limited to students in eighth grade or below, with contestants ranging in age from 8 to 15 years old.
The field consists of students who won locally sponsored bees in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense schools in Europe.
Seven foreign nations are also represented -- the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.
The winner will receive $30,000 from Scripps, which owns television stations and newspapers; a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and complete reference library from the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster; and $1,200 in reference works from Encyclopaedia Britannica.
San Diego County has produced two national champions -- Anurag Kashyap in 2005 and Snigdha Nandipati in 2012.
The bee is intended "to inspire children to improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives," according to Paige Kimble, the bee's executive director and 1981 champion.
—City News Service