Poway eighth-grader eliminated from National Spelling Bee

 At the 50th annual San Diego Union-Tribune Countywide Spelling Bee in March, Elliott Husseman, 14, took the top spot for correctly spelling “voiturette,” a miniature automobile manufactured at the turn of the 20th century. 

POWAY, Calif. — A home-schooled eighth-grader from Poway was eliminated Wednesday from the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Elliott Husseman correctly spelled both of the words he was given Tuesday — 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.

But when his spelling performance was combined with his score on a written spelling and vocabulary test, Elliott did not earn a spot among the 50 finalists.

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 Thursday’s finals. The test is considered the bee’s first round.

The finalists are determined by the test scores of the spellers who correctly spelled their third-round words. The finals 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 no more than 50 spellers are attained.

Spellers received 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 consisted 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 were 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 ranged 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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