Good luck, spellers!

June 4, 2010

We’re watching the 2010 Scripps Bee and looking forward to seeing who gets this year’s crown. All the best to the spellers and parents!


ABC’s Bee broadcast draws 6.1 million

June 3, 2009

The Thursday, May 28, broadcast of the Scripps National Spelling Bee finals drew 6.1 million viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research data published in USA TODAY.

That’s up sharply from 4.9 million viewers last year — when ABC broadcast the Bee finals on a Friday night — but lower than the 8.5 million viewers who watched the finals in 2006 and the 7.1 million in 2007, according to Nielsen.


Photos from the finals

May 29, 2009

Here are some photos from last night’s Spelling Bee finals, taken by ace photographer Santos DeBarros (and others in our family). We’ll post our wrap-up thoughts from our week in D.C. later today or tonight.

Kavya Shivishankar spells Laodicean to win the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Kavya Shivishankar spells Laodicean to win the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Paul Loeffler, Shawn Johnson and Tom Bergeron during the broadcast.

Paul Loeffler, Shawn Johnson and Tom Bergeron during the broadcast.

Host Tom Bergeron gladly signed autographs and posed for photos all night.

Host Tom Bergeron gladly signed autographs and posed for photos all night. Here, with Santos.

... and here with Nino (who entertained the lobby crowd on piano several times).

... and here with Nino (who entertained the lobby crowd on piano several times).

Sidharth Chand, last year's runner-up, reacts to missing his word.

Sidharth Chand, last year's runner-up, reacts to missing his word.

Tim Ruiter, on his way to finishing second. He's a Virginia homeschooler like us.

Tim Ruiter, on his way to finishing second. He's a Virginia homeschooler like us.

Kavya Shivishankar hoists her trophy. The gentleman is from Scripps.

Kavya Shivishankar hoists her trophy. The gentleman is from Scripps.

Jill Biden spoke to spellers and families before the finals began.

Jill Biden spoke to spellers and families before the finals began.


Laodicean

May 28, 2009

Laodicean
Definition: Indifferent or lukewarm especially in matters of religion.

Kavya Shivashankar spelled that word — familiar if you’ve spent time reading the book of Revelation — to win the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee tonight. Long considered one of the likely top finishers for this year’s bee, Kavya outlasted Tim Ruiter of Centreville, Va., and Aishwarya Pastapur of Springfield, Ill., in an intense championship round.

Her win capped a finals round that saw another favorite, Sidharth Chand, exit after missing “apodyterium.”

We had a blast watching the Bee from the audience. Host Tom Bergeron did a great job, and the Bee staff kept everything moving along really well.

We’re also pretty wiped after a week of spelling, sightseeing and socializing. But it was a blessing for Santos and our family to have this opportunity. Last year, we told him that attending the Bee was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. It’s not often you get those twice.

Once we get home, we’ll wrap up this blog with some observations from the week and a bunch of photos Santos shot during the finals.

Thanks, again, to everyone for your kind support and encouragement! And thank you again to the Loudoun Times-Mirror for sponsoring Santos!


Semifinalist statistics

May 27, 2009

Now that Santos’ spelling career has come to an end, we’re going to spend the rest of the week enjoying the competition. Hope you will, too.

It will indeed be a competition. The 41 kids heading into tomorrow’s semifinals include last year’s runner-up, Sidharth Chand. He delivers words with laser precision, and he’s the one to beat.

Also in the semifinals are a gaggle of spellers who are no strangers to the Bee.  Twenty-two of the 41 semifinalists are multi-year Bee competitors. Four are here for the fourth time: Josephine Kao, Vaibhav S. Vavilala, Kavya Shivashankar and Keiko S. Bridwell. Seven more are in their third year, and another 11, like Santos, are here for the second year (including the fun Zach Zagorsky).

That leaves 19 first-timers. Perhaps there’s a dark horse among them?

Semifinals are on ESPN starting at 10 a.m. ABC broadcasts the finals starting at 8 p.m.

We’ll be in the audience, cheering!


And the ride comes to an end …

May 27, 2009

A nail-biter of a day at the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee ended with just 41 of the 293 spellers scoring well enough to move to tomorrow’s semi-finals. That’s just 14%, or about one in seven.

Our son Santos had a brilliant day, spelling “contusion” correctly in Round Two and “oscitancy” correctly in Round Three. But, as I mentioned in my stream of bee tweets, it all came down to the Round One written test.

On that, Santos got 20 of the 25 “score” words correct. Earning one point for each of those, plus three points for each word spelled right in Rounds Two and Three, gave him a preliminary score of 26. Alas, this year only spellers with a preliminary score of 28 or better are able to move on.

Wait, you say — weren’t 50 kids supposed to move on to the semis? Better go back and read the Bee rules’ fine print. That’s a “maximum of 50.” For the math proficient, it’s obvious that more than nine spellers scored 27 points in the prelims, and the Bee had to stop at 41.

Later today, we’ll size up the competition for tomorrow. For right now, we’re going to relax and celebrate a great run for Santos. Liz and I are super proud of our boy — who in between last year’s Bee and this year’s has  grown into a fine young man. Not just in height but in character as well.

Here are some of Santos’ thoughts:

Well, it’s over for me. But, I did my best. I also did better than last year. Last year, I only got 14 of 28 preliminary points, but this year I got 26 of 31, so I’m very pleased with myself.

The spelling was extremely tense, but I was able to keep my cool. I was very happy to spell both my words correctly. Getting 84% of possible points is  very good at this competition.

I’m very thankful to God for giving me this gift and to my family, friends, and relatives for supporting me. Thank you to everyone who has paid attention to my Bee journey and offered their support and prayers.

More to come on tomorrow’s rounds, so stay tuned …

Santos gets ready to spell "oscitancy" in Round 3 Wednesday.

Santos gets ready to spell "oscitancy" in Round 3 Wednesday.


Off to spell

May 27, 2009

Spelling’s begun in Round Two, and we’re heading downstairs now. Santos is in the second group onstage this morning.

For a word-by-word description, best source is the Bee’s Twitter feed.

We’ll recap Santos’ morning performance later today! Thanks to everyone who’s told us they’re saying prayers or wishing him luck.

We just keep telling him: have fun!


Rounds Two and Three up next

May 26, 2009

Wednesday is all spelling, all day.

Round Two starts at 8 a.m., though Santos is speller No. 273 and won’t get onstage till later in the morning.

Round Three starts about 1:15 p.m. and will last till about 6 p.m.

There are no eliminations during either round.


A few announcements …

May 26, 2009
Bee director Paige Kimble offers advice -- and a reality check -- to spellers Tuesday night.

Bee director Paige Kimble offers advice -- and a reality check -- to spellers Tuesday night.

If Tuesday’s Round One computer test didn’t send a shock wave through the teens and tweens vying for the title of champion at the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee, then Tuesday night’s assembly with Bee staff surely did the trick.

Bee director Paige Kimble reminded the field that at most 50 spellers would advance into Thursday morning’s semifinals — a huge cut of the 293-kid field. For kids who might already be antsy over their performance on the computer test, this unavoidable fact will probably cause more than a little tossing and turning tonight.

The assembly was the first time many of us got to see the stage set for the Bee, and it looks practically identical to last year’s save for the “2009” in the title. It’s very cheery and a great fit for the tone of the competition. ESPN2 has been running repeats of last year’s Bee finals this week, and the intense focus on the kids’ faces doesn’t do justice to the set. Pretty impressive.

The 2009 stage set.

The 2009 stage set.

Also on hand Tuesday night was pronouncer Dr. Jacques Bailly, who went over the kinds of questions the kids can and cannot ask. But the biggest applause went to speller Kennyi Kwaku Aouad, whose talk on tips for spellers was preceded by a clip of him at the 2007 attempting to correctly hear Bailly offer up “sardoodledom.” He got it.


Post-Round One angst

May 26, 2009

Santos felt pretty confident after the Round One spelling test, which he took at 10 a.m. via PC. Bee rules prohibit him from telling us any of the words, but since he’s a statistics-savvy kind of kid, he immediately began tallying the number of words he knows he got right, the number he knows he missed, and the number in the gray area between.

Gulp. Our advice: Take a breather and look forward to tomorrow.

None of the spellers will learn the results of the Round One spelling until after tomorrow’s two oral preliminary rounds (broadcast on the subscription-only ESPN360.com). That’s when the steep cut happens, and at most 50 of 293 spellers move ahead — less than one in six.

We’re off in a little while to tonight’s assembly, where Bee officials will explain the rules for tomorrow. We’ll post after then.