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San Diego County Spelling Bee Winner Heads To National Bee

Ella Peters holds the trophy she received for winning the 47th annual San Diego Union-Tribune Countywide Spelling Bee, March 15, 2016.
Ella Peters holds the trophy she received for winning the 47th annual San Diego Union-Tribune Countywide Spelling Bee, March 15, 2016.

A seventh-grader attending San Diego's Notre Dame Academy will begin competing in the 89th Scripps National Spelling Bee Tuesday in National Harbor, Maryland.

Ella Grace Peters will be among the 285 spellers taking a 26-question multiple-choice spelling and vocabulary test at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center.

The test administered is considered the first round of the bee. The spellers will take to the convention center's stage Wednesday to spell two words. Contestants correctly spelling the first word 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 is high enough.

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

Ella qualified for the national bee by winning the San Diego County Spelling Bee on March 15. Her final word was phlegm.

Ella loves reading science fiction novels and making things. She plays bass in an all-girl rock band, the Misnomers.

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 6 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.

Six foreign nations are also represented — the Bahamas, Canada, 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.

The finals 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-four 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 are also part of the "Play-Along" version.

What ESPN has dubbed as the "SpellCheck" feature has been added to the main feed, highlighting each individual letter as the speller spells the word. Correct letters will be highlighted in gold and the first letter the speller gets incorrect will be highlighted in red.

The winner will receive $40,000 from Scripps, which owns television stations, cable networks and newspapers; a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and complete reference library from the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster; and $400 in reference works from Encyclopaedia Britannica and a three-year membership to Britannica Online Premium.