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The Scripps National Spelling Bee is this Week!

May 31, 2010

I find very few spectator events more fun than the Scripps Spelling Bee.

I know that classifies me as a bit of a weirdo – I don’t care.  I like the spelling bee.  I like the drama, I like the countdown to the finals and, of course, I like that homeschoolers tend to dominate it 🙂

From the Spelling Bee Official Roster: Here’s the homeschooled score card – all Thirty One officially homeschooled contestants this year!

Speller No. 11, Brandon Whitehead
Sponsor:
Imperial Valley Press, El Centro, CaliforniaAge, Grade:
14, Eighth Grade

School:
Home School, El Centro, California

Profile:

Brandon likes working on computers and aspires to become an open-source software developer someday. He is currently a Boy Scout and loves camping. Brandon’s favorite exercise is walking, which he enjoys doing with his favorite yellow Labrador, Molecule. Brandon studies daily to prepare for spelling bees and his favorite book is Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. Brandon tied for 60th place in the 2007 Scripps National Spelling Bee and tied for 37th place in the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Speller No. 36, Grace Remmer
Sponsor:
The Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville, FloridaAge, Grade:
11, Fifth Grade

School:
Home School, St. Augustine, Florida

Profile:
Grace delights in playing violin, knitting, and reading. Her favorite author is Jules Verne and she loves the book, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. She has been a member of the local youth orchestra for three years, and held a position as its concertmaster in 2009. Her favorite music comes from the fiddle, and she would like to meet composer George Frideric Handel. Grace’s best school subject is science, and she aspires to become either a professional violinist or a veterinarian. Her favorite animal is her grandfather’s black Labrador, Lu Lu.

Speller No. 43, Tommy Foster
Sponsor:
Tampa Bay Spelling Bee Collaborative, St. Petersburg, FloridaAge, Grade:
11, Sixth Grade

School:
Home School, Tampa, Florida

Profile:
Tommy is an avid reader. His favorite books include the Artemis Fowl series and the Percy Jackson & The Olympians series. Tommy also loves playing video games and building Legos. He is a member of a FIRST LEGO League team called TechnoForce. In its rookie year the team won trophies at local tournaments for both their research project and for team spirit. Tommy is in his second year of Boy Scouts and intends to earn the rank of Eagle Scout. He holds a black belt in mixed martial arts and is currently earning his red belt in Tae Kwon Do.

Speller No. 49, Darren Kwame Sackey
Sponsor:
Essence Communications Ltd., Accra, GhanaAge, Grade:
13, Eighth Grade

School:
Home School, Accra, Ghana

Profile:
Darren likes to socialize with people of all ages. He enjoys being a member of his community reader’s club. Darren excels at mathematics and studying the English language. He is also fluent in French and Twi, a dialect spoken in Ghana. Darren’s favorite sport is tennis, and his favorite athlete is soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo. Darren aspires to become a pilot or medical doctor. He would love to meet Kofi Annan, who became the first ever Ghanaian diplomat to attain the position of United Nations Secretary-General.

Speller No. 78, Gina Solomito
Sponsor:
Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis, Indianapolis, IndianaAge, Grade:
12, Seventh Grade

School:
Home School, Indianapolis, Indiana

Profile:
Gina’s favorite school subject is science, and she hopes to become a scientist one day. She attends many programs related to physical science, and also participates in science fairs. Gina has enjoyed playing the piano for six years. She is also involved in gymnastics and is a member of a local swim team. Gina collects snow globes. Although she is currently studying Latin and Greek, her favorite language is Spanish. Gina tied for 64th place in the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Speller No. 81, Nathan J. Marcisz
Sponsor:
Indiana Wesleyan University, Marion, IndianaAge, Grade:
14, Eighth Grade

School:
Home School, Marion, Indiana

Profile:

Nathan enjoys reading and writing. He has studied Latin and Greek, but his best school subject is biology. Nathan also loves music and has taken piano lessons for three years. Adam Young of Owl City is his favorite musician. Nathan has also participated in organized soccer, and is an avid runner. He has a shih tzu puppy named Brody. Nathan is very involved with his church where he volunteers with the Hope for Today tutoring program for inner city children. Nathan aspires to become a pastor, teacher or author.

Speller No. 82, Tommy Arnold
Sponsor:
The Star Press, Muncie, IndianaAge, Grade:
12, Sixth Grade

School:
Home School, Muncie, Indiana

Profile:
Tommy loves reading—his favorite book is Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix—and he is considering a career in writing.  His interests range from Tolkien to soccer, but his great passions include video games and all things Star Wars. Tommy plays piano, has participated in Math Olympiads and will soon make his Shakespearean debut in a home school production of The Merchant of Venice.

Speller No. 83, Margaret Flaherty Peterson
Sponsor:
South Bend Tribune, South Bend, IndianaAge, Grade:
10, Fourth Grade

School:
Home School, Granger, Indiana

Profile:

Margaret enjoys reading, writing stories, and drawing and painting pictures. At school, her favorite subjects are math, logic and religion. Margaret is a fan of Beethoven and classical music. She has played violin for six years, and sang in the church children’s choir for three years. Margaret also plays violin at Mass on occasion. She loves rollerblading with her dad and going on bike rides with her whole family. Margaret enjoys travel, and ranks Washington, D.C., the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Wisconsin Dells and Florida among her favorite places to visit.

Speller No. 85, Jenna Lee Sink
Sponsor:
Kankakee Valley REMC, Wanatah, IndianaAge, Grade:
14, Eighth Grade

School:
Home School, Chesterton, Indiana

Profile:
Jenna is an avid reader and her favorite book is the Bible. She has studied piano for six years. Other leisure activities Jenna enjoys include crocheting and drawing. She volunteers weekly at her local library in the children’s department, and she is a member of 4-H and the Duneland Youth Chess Club. In the future, Jenna aspires to be an elementary school teacher.

Speller No. 102, Lanson T. Tang
Sponsor:
The Meakem Group of Wells Fargo Advisors, Bethesda, MarylandAge, Grade:
14, Eighth Grade

School:
Home School, Potomac, Maryland

Profile:
Lanson loves sports. He is a dedicated swimmer, and is especially good at swimming breaststroke. He also enjoys basketball, soccer, volleyball and running. Lanson likes reading, and read hundreds of books while in elementary school. His favorite subject is mathematics, and he aspires to be either a statistician or a game designer. Lanson also likes learning foreign languages, and can speak Chinese, some French and some Spanish. He enjoys theater and dance, and he plays piano and violin.

Speller No. 111, Amber Born
Sponsor:
The Daily Item, Lynn, MassachusettsAge, Grade:
11, Fifth Grade

School:
Home School, Marblehead, Massachusetts

Profile:

Amber enjoys music, athletics and languages. She has played piano for several years, and she sings in a local choir. Amber ice skates regularly and plays soccer and basketball. She also participates in after-school sports. Creative writing is one of her favorite activities, and she looks forward to having her novels published. Besides aspiring to be an author, Amber’s other career interests include politics and law.

Speller No. 133, Elizabeth Platz
Sponsor:
Columbia Daily Tribune, Columbia, MissouriAge, Grade:
13, Eighth Grade

School:
Home School, Shelbina, Missouri

Profile:
Elizabeth enjoys reading, creative writing and poetry. She has written her first fictional book based on a group of friends who discover and help save a secret world, and she is planning to write several sequels. Elizabeth’s favorite book is Webster’s Third New International Dictionary. She also enjoys drawing, painting and music. Elizabeth aspires to have a career in fine arts, utilizing her writing and drawing skills. She and her brother have an extensive Beanie Babies collection. She participated in the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Speller No. 151, Hannah Evans
Sponsor:
The Albuquerque Journal, Albuquerque,
New MexicoAge, Grade:
14, Eighth Grade

School:
Home School, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Profile:
Hannah’s interests include cooking, reading and gardening. At the New Mexico State Fair she won second place for a gigantic pumpkin that she grew. In her free time, Hannah enjoys playing tennis and basketball. She also likes sketching fashion designs, and aspires to have her own clothing company. Hannah enjoys helping others, and she volunteers at a local food bank. She also assists her parents with their arts and crafts business, and she has created and sold her own jewelry at several shows. Spelling is a family affair: Hannah participated in the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee; her brother, Matthew, participated in five consecutive Scripps National Spelling Bees between 2004 and 2008.

Speller No. 157, Gabriel David Blacklock
Sponsor:
Times Herald-Record, Middletown,
New YorkAge, Grade:
13, Seventh Grade

School:
Home School, Tuxedo Park, New York

Profile:
Gabriel enjoys playing the trumpet, piano and recorder. He also sings in a choir. In his free time Gabriel may be found building catapults and siege engines out of Legos, baking cookies, reading books or collecting coins. While he would like to be a professional numismatist someday, he is concerned that it is too risky. Gabriel delights in Eowyn, his golden retriever, and Cato, his cat. Spelling is a family pastime: Gabriel’s four siblings have all competed in Scripps National Spelling Bees in 2002, 2003, 2004, 2006 and 2008. His sister, Evelyn, placed second in the 2003 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Speller No. 161, Isabella Penola
Sponsor:
The Daily Star, Oneonta, New YorkAge, Grade:
13, Seventh Grade

School:
Home School, Cooperstown, New York

Profile:
Isabella loves reading and writing, and in the past year she has been reading the Bible. Isabella has won several short story writing contests and aspires to be a professional author. She has been playing piano for six years and violin for six months. Isabella enjoys studying American history and is looking forward to spending time exploring the nation’s capital while participating in the Bee. Although its impossible, she would most like to meet George Washington because of how he shaped our country and because of the examples he set for future presidents. In her spare time Isabella likes to hike, bike, kayak and rollerblade.

Speller No. 186, Liz Stickley
Sponsor:
Dayton Daily News, Dayton, OhioAge, Grade:
13, Seventh Grade

School:
Home School, Dayton, Ohio

Profile:
Liz’s favorite school subject is science, and she is an avid amateur astronomer who aspires to pursue a career in astrophysics. Her other interests include geology, paleontology and physics. Liz also enjoys reading and writing science fiction and fantasy works. In her spare time one can find Liz playing guitar, listening to her favorite songs or enjoying her two dachshunds, Cooper and Annie. Her favorite food is pizza.

Speller No. 196, Rachel McFall
Sponsor:
The Tribune Chronicle, Warren, OhioAge, Grade:
13, Seventh Grade

School:
Home School, West Farmington, Ohio

Profile:
Last summer Rachel made her debut performance in Kent State University’s summer stock theater production of Wild Bill’s Rootin’ Tootin’ High Falutin’ Wild West Show. In the fall Rachel’s team won the Trumbull County Junior Envirothon competition and placed third in the Ohio-Pennsylvania Watershed Challenge. Rachel also participated at the local level in National Geographic Bee competition. Recently she experienced the thrill of indoor skydiving. Rachel is looking forward to her turn at the Scripps National Spelling Bee after watching two of her sisters and one brother compete in six previous Scripps National Spelling Bees.

Speller No. 197, Kirsten Prout
Sponsor:
The News-Herald, Willoughby, OhioAge, Grade:
13, Seventh Grade

School:
Home School, Middlefield, Ohio

Profile:

Kirsten enjoys acting. This year she participated in a production of James and the Giant Peach. She also started her fifth year of playing the piano. Kirsten would like to pursue a career in photography. She has participated in art and photography competitions sponsored by The Great Geauga County Fair. Kirsten earned second place among the teen photography entries in 2009, and in previous years has placed first for her entries in art and has earned “Best in Show.” She also enjoys playing volleyball, participating in church youth group activities, and spending time with her friends.

Speller No. 201, Hannah Allison
Sponsor:
KOHD News, Bend, OregonAge, Grade:
13, Seventh Grade

School:
Home School, Bend, Oregon

Profile:
Hannah’s family lives on a small ranch, where she is the oldest of seven children. She started a family bluegrass band, and she plays banjo and fiddle. They perform at various events, including the Hoedown for Hunger. Hannah enjoys learning homesteading skills like growing a garden, butchering pigs, chickens and turkeys, and canning produce. Every week, Hannah bakes six loaves of bread for her family, from wheat that she grinds herself. She participates in sewing and quilting with the 4-H Club, and last year at the Oregon State Fair her quilt won first place. She has danced in the Nutcracker Ballet for three years. One of Hannah’s favorite familial activities is caring for two of her younger sisters, both of whom have developmental disabilities. Hannah is learning American Sign Language to help her sisters better communicate.

Speller No. 202, Connor Aberlé
Sponsor:
Portland Tribune, Portland, OregonAge, Grade:
14, Eighth Grade

School:
Home School, Beaverton, Oregon

Profile:

Connor was born in the Bahamas, and is proud to have dual citizenship. He has played the violin for six years, and his favorite pastime is composing orchestral music. Connor won a scholarship to the Aspen Music Festival and School in 2005. In addition to music, he enjoys acting and performing improvisational comedy. This year Connor played the lead role in his school’s production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. He spends a lot of time writing fiction and working on various aspects of video game design. Connor loves to see the world, and has traveled extensively in Europe and the Americas. He is an accomplished snow skier and holds a green belt in Tae Kwon Do. Connor tied for 17th place in the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Speller No. 229, Clark Hubbard
Sponsor:
The Tennessean, Nashville, TennesseeAge, Grade:
14, Eighth Grade

School:
Home School, Franklin, Tennessee

Profile:
Clark is a Boy Scout who recently achieved the Life rank; he is now working on earning the Eagle Scout rank. This summer he will spend two weeks at Philmont Scout Ranch in New Mexico. Clark is an avid reader who enjoys books by authors Jules Verne, Robert Louis Stevenson, Alexandre Dumas, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.  He enjoys acting and his favorite role has been Henry in The Match Girl’s Gift: A Christmas Story. Clark also enjoys playing video games and spending time with his friends. He recently learned to ride a Rip Stik and delights in learning new stunts and perfecting his technique.

Speller No. 234, Abigail V. Spitzer
Sponsor:
El Paso Times, El Paso, TexasAge, Grade:
11, Sixth Grade

School:
Home School, El Paso, Texas

Profile:
Abby is a frequent soloist in her church’s youth choir. She has also taken piano lessons for three years. Abby loves to perform in plays and has participated in a production of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, in addition to several shorter productions. When not busy with these activities, she can be found reading, especially fantasy books and historical fiction. Someday Abby would like to be an author or an actress. She has two dogs, Casey, a golden retriever/cocker spaniel mix, and Charlotte, a white terrier.

Speller No. 252, Sarah Anne Allen
Sponsor:
The News-Virginian and The Daily Progress, Charlottesville, VirginiaAge, Grade:
12, Seventh Grade

School:
Home School, Waynesboro, Virginia

Profile:

Sarah Anne is an avid reader, with a particular interest in the fantasy genre. Her favorite book is Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins. Sarah Anne also enjoys writing stories and poetry, and has a natural gift for languages. She is interested in animals, and is a member of the Nature Nuts 4-H Club. Sarah Anne brings ideas to life with anything from scraps of fabric to sticks from her backyard. She is an active participant in her church youth group, and aspires to be a missionary someday.

Speller No. 253, Matthew Raymond Zisi
Sponsor:
The Free Lance-Star, Fredericksburg, VirginiaAge, Grade:
13, Eighth Grade

School:
Home School, Fredericksburg, Virginia

Profile:
Matthew enjoys music. As a pianist, he performs at church and in music festivals. Matthew has earned several gold cups through the Virginia Federation of Music Clubs. As a violinist, he has held the position of concertmaster in both the Rappahannock Youth Symphony and the Forte Junior Symphony Orchestra. During his early violin training he performed in Suzuki festivals at Constitution Hall. Matthew also enjoys singing in his church’s teen choir. His other interests include traveling to historic sites, attending sporting events, and collecting baseball, football, hockey and NASCAR cards. Matthew aspires to be an FBI agent, just like his dad.

Speller No. 254, Baylor Towne
Sponsor:
Hampton Literary Society, Hampton, VirginiaAge, Grade:
13, Seventh Grade

School:
Home School, Williamsburg, Virginia

Profile:
Baylor loves to read and to go kayaking. She lives on a kayak farm in a rural area of Virginia, just off the Chesapeake Bay. Here she also has a dog, cat and two goats. Baylor’s favorite subjects in school are history, literature and music. She has played violin for six years, and she is a member of the Williamsburg Youth Orchestra, the Tidewater Homeschool Sinfonietta and her church orchestra. She has played piano for five years, and she won first place in the Mary Smart State Competition in 2009. Also in 2009, she was concertmaster for the Southeastern Virginia District Honor Orchestra. She aspires to be a professional musician.

Speller No. 259, Tim Ruiter
Sponsor:
Fairfax County Times, Reston, VirginiaAge, Grade:
13, Eighth Grade

School:
Home School, Centreville, Virginia

Profile:
Tim enjoys building with Legos and is a fan of science fiction. He likes riding his bike, running and reading. Tim has been playing electric and acoustic guitar for the last three years. He has been on the Science Bowl team for the last two years, placing third in the regional competition in 2010, and in the top twelve nationally in 2009. Tim is a member of his church’s junior high youth group, and is a junior counselor in the grade school boys youth group. He loves jelly beans, dark chocolate, quesadillas, chicken pizza and ice cream. Tim tied for second place in the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Speller No. 263, Samuel George Estep
Sponsor:
The Community Foundation of the Northern Shenandoah Valley, Winchester, VirginiaAge, Grade:
12, Sixth Grade

School:
Home School, Berryville, Virginia

Profile:
Samuel enjoys caring for his seven pet chickens, playing games, drawing and baking. He also likes reading, and The Indian in the Cupboard by Lynne Reid Banks and the Bible are his favorite books. Samuel loves playing games on the Nintendo Wii, and he holds several world records for Wii Fit. Because he is from a large family and has six siblings, Samuel always has something to do. He is interested in technology, and he hopes to become a physicist or an architect someday. His role model is his older sister Marissa, who participated in the 2004 and 2006 Scripps National Spelling Bees.

Speller No. 264, Deborah Kirstin Horton
Sponsor:
News & Messenger, Woodbridge, VirginiaAge, Grade:
14, Eighth Grade

School:
Home School, Manassas, Virginia

Profile:

Deborah enjoys reading, swimming, music, playing games and working on the computer. Her favorite sport is basketball, and she would most like to meet Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns. Deborah likes attending various church youth activities including community service projects, Bible study and Awana Club. She loves going to theme parks and riding roller coasters. Deborah would like to be a detective someday. Preparing for spelling bees is a family affair in the Horton household: Deborah participated in the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee, and her brother, Jonathan, competed in 2005, 2006 and 2007 Scripps National Spelling Bees.

Speller No. 269, Savannah Dawn Aldridge
Sponsor:
The Clarksburg Exponent-Telegram, Clarksburg,
West VirginiaAge, Grade:
12, Seventh Grade

School:
Home School, Bridgeport, West Virginia

Profile:
Savannah loves acting and has been in several plays, including performing the role of the evil queen in a production of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs this past January. She enjoys learning to play songs on the piano. Savannah has earned an orange belt in Chito-ryu Karate, is a member of Mensa International, and participated in her state’s National Geographic Bee this year. She loves animals, especially dogs, and would love to become a veterinarian someday. Savannah has a dog named Woofie and a cat named Maples.

Of course, as my wife pointed out years ago, almost ALL of them
prepared for this event primarily at home – The Scripps
Spelling bee official website confirms it
. 237 studied only with
family, nine studied alone, 11 used teachers as well as family and
friends and ten did not say who coached them.  Only 6 spellers were
coached solely by a teacher.

So, in effect, they are almost ALL homeschooled in one way or
another.

I probably won’t be able to live blog the event, but that’s no loss as A List of Things Thrown 5 Minutes Ago has been doing a great job of it for years.

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7 Comments
  1. What an inspiring group of talented young minds. Keep up the good work.

  2. I agree – the things they have accomplished at their ages is FANTASTIC! I can’t wait to see how the finals play out.

    I’m guessing you found my by looking up stuff related to Indiana. Your state had five homeschoolers in the Preliminaries – that’s impressive!

  3. These are great kids. Hope they will carry on this habit when they grow up 😀

  4. Thank you very much my friend, you are very kind in sharing this useful information with? others….
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