The Latest | Southern California breaking news and trends
US & World

Scripps National Spelling Bee: 239 kids buzz off; 42 fly into semifinals (MAP)

Scripps National Spelling Bee
Scripps National Spelling Bee

For some children, the world is unforgivingly divided into two groups — "eliminated" and "still spelling."

On Wednesday, 239 kids suffered their own personal colony collapse when they were eliminated from competition at the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee. By the end of the busy day, 42 contestants remained buzzing in the direction of  the "semifinals." 

If you enjoy watching the dreams of young people disappear in real-time, you will love the sting of Scripps' interactive tracking map this year. Follow along (below) on Thursday as Bee contestants begin dropping like flies at 2 p.m. EDT. 





More than a dozen contestants claimed California as their home state. As of Wednesday evening, it appeared that two of them — Isabel Cholbi, 11, of San Bernardino and Audrey Bantug, 13, of San Ramon — remained in the competition, according to Scripps' interactive map.

KPCC's Rob Strauss spoke with local contestant Rebecca Baron — a 13-year-old 8th grader from Chatsworth Hills Academy — about the new vocabulary section.

"I like it ," Baron said, "because it trips up the standards a little bit, and lets some new talents through. The goal of the bee is to improve your understanding of the English language, and it definitely helps with that."


42 semifinalists (from 281 regional winners) will go before a nationally televised audience on Thursday for the Scripps National Spelling Bee:

They include spellers from China and Italy, several who have made the semis in previous years, and three who had perfect scores on the preliminary computer-based spelling and vocabulary test that accounted for most of the points earned.

The official Bee '13 website anticipates "that no more than 12 spellers will advance to the Championship Finals," scheduled to take place Thursday evening.

The Competition Flow Chart explains the Rounds in detail. 


According to an official news release:

Some of the spellers sought as much time in the limelight as possible, asking for languages of origin, parts of speech, and to have the word used in a sentence. 

Others jumped right in, spelling without prompts of any kind.

Spellers knew "facetious," "commensurate" and "Fahrenheit" without aid, while others learned that a "croesus" is a word of Lydian origin for a very rich man, "fantoccini" are puppets on strings and a "rapscallion" is a scoundrel.


  • What: Scripps National Spelling Bee semifinals and finals 
  • When: Thursday 
  • Where: Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center, National Harbor, Md.
  • Who: Administered on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Co. of Cincinnati and local spelling bee sponsors in the United States, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense Schools in Europe; also, the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.
  • Semifinals: Thursday, 2-5 p.m. EDT. Live on ESPN2.
  • Championship Finals: Thursday, 8-10 p.m. EDT. Live on ESPN.


The Spelling Bee champion wins:

  1. From Scripps, a $30,000 cash prize and the Scripps National Spelling Bee engraved trophy
  2. From Merriam-Webster, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a complete reference library
  3. From Encyclopædia Britannica, $2,000 of reference works including the Britannica Global Edition, 2013 Encyclopædia Britannica Ultimate Reference Suite DVD-ROM, and a three year membership to Britannica Online Premium

EVERYTHING ELSE YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT "BEE WEEK," BUT WERE AFRAID TO ASK (including: the rules, and why it's called a spelling bee)

For a honeypot of answers, stick with the Bee Week 2013 guide and the official rules of competition. Warning, it's a lot to digest — try not to break out in hives.