Poway eighth-grader moves up in National Spelling Bee

POWAY, Calif. — A home-schooled eighth-grader from Poway correctly spelled both of the words he was given Tuesday at the 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee and will learn Wednesday whether he qualified for the finals.

Elliott Husseman correctly spelled zirconium, a steel-gray hard ductile metallic element, in the second round and mitosis, a process that takes place in the nucleus of a dividing cell, in the third round at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, near Washington, D.C.

Elliott and his 561 fellow competitors took a multiple-choice test with 12 spelling words and 14 vocabulary questions on Monday, part of the qualifying process to advance to the finals. The test is considered the bee’s first round.

Contestants spelling their third-round words correctly can advance to the finals, which are limited to a maximum of 50 spellers. Spellers’ scores are plotted on a chart beginning at 36. Spellers at each consecutive scoring level are added until 50 spellers have been attained.

The list of qualifiers for Thursday’s finals will be announced following completion of the third round Wednesday.

Spellers receive one point for each of the 12 items correctly identified in the spelling portion of the test, one point for each of the 12 items correctly identified in the initial vocabulary section, three points for a correct answer to the lone item in the second vocabulary section, and three points for a correct answer to the lone item in the third vocabulary section.

Elliott qualified for the national bee by winning the 50th annual San Diego Union-Tribune Countywide Spelling Bee in March. The final word was voiturette, a French word meaning a small, usually two-seater car.

Elliott said he knew exactly how to spell the word thanks to a French friend who taught him the word for car, voiture, during a recent visit.

Elliott is homeschooled through Inspire Charter Schools. He said he is excited that he will be attending the local public high school in the next school year.

The field consists of spellers from 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, Germany, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.

The bee is limited to students in eighth grade or below. Contestants for the 92nd edition of the national bee range in age from 7 to 15.

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.

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