Solana Beach student enters National Spelling Bee

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Oona Flood won the 46th annual San Diego County Spelling Bee in 2015.

SOLANA BEACH, Calif. — An eighth-grader from Earl Warren Middle School in Solana Beach began competing in the 88th Scripps National Spelling Bee Tuesday in National Harbor, Maryland.

Oona Mary Nikko Flood and the 284 other spellers took a 26-question multiple-choice spelling and vocabulary test at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. The test is considered the first round of the bee.

The spellers will take to the convention center’s stage Wednesday to spell words aloud. Contestants spelling the first word correctly will advance to the third round.

Spellers correctly spelling their third-round word can be among the maximum of 50 spellers advancing to Thursday’s semifinals if their test score was high enough.

A misspelling in either the second or third round means the contestant is eliminated.

Oona qualified for the national bee by winning the 46th annual U-T San Diego competition in March. Her final word was fuliginous, a Latin word meaning “having the color of soot.”

Oona said she hopes to combine her interests in language and politics by becoming a CIA agent.

The 14-year-old loves reading, writing and studying languages. She is trained in classic guitar, enjoys participating in ballroom dance and is a gymnast.

Two San Diego students have won the Scripps National Spelling Bee — Anurag Kashyap in 2005 and Snigdha Nandipati in 2012.

The bee is intended “to inspire children to improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives,” according to Paige Kimble, the bee’s executive director and 1981 champion.

The bee is limited to students in eighth grade or below, with contestants ranging in age from 9 to 15 years old.

The field consists of students who won locally sponsored bees in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense schools in Europe.

Seven foreign nations are also represented — the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.

The second and third rounds will be shown by the broadband network ESPN3 from 5-8:45 a.m. and 10:15 a.m.-2:45 p.m. (Pacific Daylight Time) Wednesday. The semifinalists will be announced at the conclusion of the third round.

The semifinals will be shown on ESPN2 from 7-10 a.m. Thursday and the finals from 5-7 p.m. Thursday on ESPN.

All of the coverage can also be seen on the WatchESPN app.

Throughout the competition, ESPN3 and WatchESPN will have a multiple- choice “Play-Along” version, where viewers will have a one-in-three  chance to pick the correct spelling.

Informational boxes highlighting the word’s etymology, definition, pronunciation and part of speech, along with live tweets and the speller’s biography have been added to the “Play-Along” version.

The winner will receive $30,000 from Scripps, which owns television stations, cable networks and newspapers; $5,000 from the makers of the multi- player word game Words With Friends; a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and complete reference library from the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster; and $1,100 in reference works from Encyclopaedia Britannica, and a three-year membership to Britannica Online Premium.

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