More than two dozen local students are competing in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which kicked off Tuesday at Maryland's National Harbor.
Out the 281 young spellers competing for the title of 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee Champion, 26 of them are from the D.C. area.
One young competitor, Madison, was decked out Tuesday in black and yellow bumblebee gear, including a necklace and sneakers. But it's practice, not luck, that landed her here.
"I study every day, a couple hours," she told News4's Erika Gonzalez. "I think my record is seven or eight hours straight in one day. I was off of school so I thought I would just study all day."
It’s the second trip to the bee for 13-year-old Donovan Rolle, of D.C., according to the bee's official website. Rolle is a student at Howard University Middle School for Math & Science. He doesn't only focus on school, though -- he also happens to think the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens are the best team in the league.
Eleven spellers hail from Maryland, some with some interesting hobbies.
Among them, Jade Lee, 13, of Smithsburg, makes miniature models of real-life things. Khaled Mohamed,13, from Salisbury listens to rapper Wiz Khalifa and speaks fluent Arabic. Gabriela Rodriguez-Garcia,13, from Fort Washington is the grand champion in sewing at the 4H section of the Prince George’s County Fair.
Fourteen spellers reside in Virginia, and many of them express a love for athletics... although that's not all.
Luke Thornburgh, 13, from Ashburn, enjoys football and can solve a Rubik’s cube while riding his bike in 83 seconds. Sam Pereles,12, of Waynesboro, has been awarded a tap-dancing scholarship, and says his sports idol is Argentinian soccer plater Lionel Messi. Yashna Nainani,14, from Mechanicsville, plays on a youth basketball team that placed second in a tournament last year.
Could one of these local students spell their way to victory? It's been 21 years since someone from our region won the National Spelling Bee, when Amanda Goad of Richmond won in 1992 after spelling the word "lyceum" correctly.
Goad went on to win $31,200 on “Jeopardy” and graduated from Harvard Law School in 2005.
The tension at the competition has risen this year with the introduction of a computerized vocabulary test on Tuesday and no second chances after misspelling a word. Un-bee-lievable, right?
The Scripps National Champion receives a $30,000 cash prize and enough bragging rights to last a lifetime. Every participant leaves with at least a $100 VISA gift card.
Thursday’s final round will be broadcast live on ESPN.