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 in Brooklyn 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, as previously reported in THE BEE. The battle of words ended with Chang successfully spelling the word P-E-R-S-I-A-N.
The 12-year-old said her love of reading has been 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 who don't recognize the word, 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".
In the end, this year's Spelling Bee ended in an unprecedented eight-way tie for first place after twenty rounds, and after all eight had correctly spelled the final 47 words in a row. This year's contest ended when the clock reached midnight – with each of the eight winners receiving the full $50,000 cash first prize. They were six boys and two girls, aged 12 to 14.
The Pamplin Media Group, of which THE BEE is a part, has sponsored the Regional Spelling Bee for the past 16 years. The three-day Scripps National Spelling Bee, a lexicographical tradition since 1925, is broadcast live on Disney's ESPN Sports cable/satellite network.
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