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June 2, 2012

Kids had to spell words in contest that my spell check didn't recognize

Spelling bees are filled with interesting facts about words and generate dramatic and exciting moments.

And technology has made the Scripps National Spelling Bee more accessible.

This week, I was eager to know how The Daily Star's contestant, Kristin Ratliff, 14, of Cooperstown, was doing. The bee, held near Washington, D.C., was held from Tuesday to Thursday. From the bee's website, I found out quickly after Round Two on Wednesday morning that she had successfully spelled "quonk."

Her accomplishment was happy news that made me eager to find about her next challenge. I wasn't able to watch it live on ESPN2, but Twitter told me what I really wanted to know. I couldn't see Kristin's face or hear the pronouncer say "cubitiere" at 3:50 p.m., but I knew within seconds that she had been successful in bee Round Three on Wednesday afternoon.

I needed an extra-big dictionary to look up those two words.

Kristen said she didn't score well enough on Tuesday's spelling test to qualify for semifinals Thursday. Here's a partial list of the words on that test: Doxic, somnial, urbicarian, pogonotomy, dubitante, ejido, tomalley, semelparous, anemochore, Thucydidean, neomenia, chitarrone, outrecuidance and quelea. Most of these words aren't in my computer's spell-check program.

The bee website also presented biographies of the students, including if siblings had competed in previous years. Details about bee history and statistics about participants were interesting, and some of the contestants names could be as challenging to pronounce or spell as bee words. For instance, from Twitter came the following news: "Speller 152, Eboseremhen Eigbe, spells 'exophthalmic' correctly in Round Three of the Bee."

And being a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, I was captivated to know that she misspelled "xanthophyll" in an 1880s community spelling match.

Spelling is more than the letters that comprise the word.

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