Two students from Los Angeles County and one from Orange County are among the field of 275 competitors in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which begins Tuesday in National Harbor, Md.
Marika K. Fox, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at St. Nicholas School in Northridge, Tin Kuo, a 13-year-old eighth-grader at Suzanne Middle School in Walnut, and Talia Rose Ruiz, a 12-year-old seventh-grader at Brookhurst Junior High School in Anaheim, will take a 25-word test at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center Tuesday.
On Wednesday, the spellers will take part in rounds two and three, which are conducted on stage and require each student to spell one word in each round. Spellers earn three points for each correctly spelled word, giving each speller the chance to earn up to 31 points in the first three rounds.
At the end of round three, the field will be reduced to a maximum of 50 spellers based on their scores.
The semifinal and championship rounds will be held Thursday, with a contestant eliminated after he or she misspells a word.
Rounds two and three can be seen on the broadband network ESPN3.com beginning at 5 a.m. Wednesday. ESPN will carry the semifinal rounds beginning at 7 a.m. and the championship rounds at 5:30 p.m. Thursday.
Throughout the entire competition, ESPN3.com will carry a second "play along" version, featuring the option to view the coverage without graphics, so viewers can test their knowledge against the champion spellers.
The bee is limited to students in eighth grade or below, with this year's contestants ranging in age from 8 to 15 and from third through eighth grades.
Marika said her favorite school subject is math and hopes to pursue a career as a math teacher. She is a member of her school church choirs, takes flute lessons, dances, enjoys doing arts and crafts, camping with her Girl Scout troop and reading. Her favorite book is "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire."
Tin enjoys reading and playing tennis, chess and video games. His favorite school subject is science and favorite book is "Eragon."
Talia loves music, spends much of her time playing basketball, working on her school yearbook and acting. Her favorite school subject is science.
The winner of the bee will receive $30,000 from Scripps, which owns television stations and newspapers, a $5,000 scholarship from the Sigma Phi Epsilon Educational Foundation, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond from the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster, and reference works from Encyclopaedia Britannica valued at $2,600 and a lifetime membership to Britannica Online Premium and a Nook eReader and online course from K12 Inc.
The field consists of students who won locally sponsored bees in all 50 states, along with American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense Schools in Europe. Eight foreign nations are also represented – the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.
Southern California has produced only one champion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, which began in 1925, Anurag Kashyap of Poway, the 2005 winner.