Go, Hunter. Keep ‘Em Spellbound

Hunter Lehmann, Kitsap’s representative to the Scripps National Spelling Bee, advanced to the second round of the quarterfinals today. According to the story now up on the Kitsap Sun’s homepage, Hunter, 13, of Poulsbo, “advanced to the second round, or Round 4, of the quarterfinals” today, “If he spells his word correctly this round, he will make it to the semifinals on Friday. He advanced by spelling the word ‘brumous’ correctly. Brumous is a word of French origin that means “foggy, or misty.”

Hunter’s dad sent an e-mail Wednesday explaining how the process works. Peter Lehmann wrote:

Spelling competition starts this year with 288 spellers. Within 24 hours the Bee needs to get down to a small number of spellers for the semifinal and final rounds, which are televised on ESPN and ABC respectively. To do this, a large number of spellers are eliminated in a short period of time in what is called Preliminaries, composed of written and oral spelling.

Last year all the spellers took the written portion of the elimination round together in a large room. 25 words were given to them at the same time, and they were to choose from among five possible alternative spellings for each test word (using a bubble type score sheet). This was followed immediately by a single oral round for each of the spellers. The written words each counted for one point and the oral round counted for three points. The top 90 spellers plus ties advanced to the quarterfinals.

Hunter was disappointed with his written round last year, and he didn’t make it past the initial cut. This year, the spellers were given the written test via computer and headphones, with each speller able to take the test at their leisure over the first two days (during the fun half of the week). Each speller was given an identical set of 50 words to spell, listening to the word pronunciation, definition, origin, etc via headphones, then typing in their best guess on the computer. Only 25 of the 50 words are the actual test words. No one knows until tomorrow which were the true test words and which ones weren’t.

Tomorrow morning all the spellers will again go through an oral round in front of the judges, and they will find out their written scores — the score from their written test (one point per correct word) and oral round (three points for a correct spelling) will be combined, with the top 90 and ties once again advancing to the quarterfinals. Hunter feels much more confident this year after the written round. We’ll find out tomorrow if he’s done well enough to advance.

The quarterfinal round will, for the first time, be viewable to the public via the internet .

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