Escondido 8th grader eliminated from Spelling Bee

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ESCONDIDO, Calif. — Giabao Tonthat, an eighth-grader at Heritage K-8 Charter School in Escondido, correctly spelled two words today but was eliminated from the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Oxon Hill, Md.

The contestants on Tuesday took computer-based spelling and vocabulary tests, which are considered the first round of the bee. They took to the stage at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center today for the second and third rounds, during which Giabao correctly spelled “Qatari” and “flabbergast,” meaning to overwhelm with shock.

Escondido eighth grader wins county spelling beeBut Giabao’s performance on the computerized tests were not enough to propel him to Thursday’s semifinals.

This year’s competition marked the first time the bee, which began with 281 contestants, incorporated vocabulary questions.

“It represents a deepening of the bee’s commitment to its purpose — to help students improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies, learn concepts and develop English usage that will help them all their lives,” according to Paige Kimble, the bee’s executive director and its 1981 champion.

Giabao is 13, loves playing with his Australian shepherds May and Com, enjoys football, reading and soccer. His favorite movie is “Toy Story 3” and he likes the music of pianist and YouTube sensation Kyle Landry.

The bee is limited to students in eighth grade or below, with contestants ranging in age from 8 to 14 years old.

The original field included 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 were also represented — the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.

The winner of the bee will receive $30,000 from Scripps, which owns television stations and newspapers; a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and complete reference library from the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster; and $2,000 in reference works from Encyclopaedia Britannica.

The semifinal and championship rounds will be held Thursday, with a contestant eliminated after he or she misspells a word.

ESPN2 will carry the semifinals from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Thursday. The championship finals will be on ESPN from 5-7 p.m. Thursday.

Throughout the entire competition, will carry a second “play along” version, where viewers will have the option to view coverage without seeing the word until the last second so they can test their spelling skills against the champion spellers.

This is ESPN’s 20th year of covering the bee.

San Diego produced last year’s champion, Snigdha Nandipati.

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