Portland's spelling champ Agatha Chang is ready for a well-deserved break — after doing her best to beat the dictionary and 564 other spellers at the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
The seventh-grader at Winterhaven School was eliminated in the third round of the Scripps Bee after missing letters in "putrescible," which describes gunky matter that is likely to decay or undergo putrefaction.
"It was interesting. I met a lot of new people," Chang said in a phone interview from the Capitol. "We're not really focusing on the cameras. We're focusing on the words."
In early March, Chang took first place among 43 contestants from local middle and elementary schools during the Regional Spelling Bee at Portland's Hollywood Theatre. The battle of words ended with Chang successfully spelling the word P-E-R-S-I-A-N.
The 12-year-old told the Tribune her love of reading was the key to her achievement. She aced the second round of the Scripps Bee after recognizing her word — ratafia — from a book she had read recently. (For those not in the know, ratafia is a type of almond-flavored macaroon.)
"Other than brushing up on the roots and what not, you can't do a lot" to prepare, Chang said. "It's been a really fun time."
The only other Oregon participant in the Scripps Bee, Nyssa School District student Arcadia Corn, was also eliminated in the third round after misspelling the word "meerkat."
The Pamplin Media Group has sponsored the Regional Spelling Bee for the past 16 years. The Scripps National Spelling Bee, a lexicographical tradition since 1925, is broadcast live on ESPN through Thursday, May 30.
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