Story and photo by Silvia Rodriguez
To read story in the Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, click here.
Also published in the San Angelo Standard-Times.
NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. – Seventh-grader Gabriella Rodriguez misspelled a word Wednesday morning in Round 2 of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, taking her out of the competition.
She was one of 15 to be eliminated during the first onstage spelling round. By the ed of the day, all but 50 spellers will be eliminated.
Gabriella, 13, incorrectly spelled the word “zwinger” as “svinger.”
The tricky word is pronounced “tsvinjer” and is defined as a fortress protecting a city by the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the official dictionary of the bee.
“I don’t actually remember studying that word,” Gabriella said. She used the official bee study guide, which she said included five pages of vocabulary words.
“I didn’t recognize the word, either, and we both have been studying together,” her mother, Margie Rodriguez said. “It was the last word on the Round 2 list, which by the time you’re at the very last of all of those words you’re like ‘OK, I’ve studied enough,’ so we might start backwards next year.”
Although Gabriella only got to spell on stage once this year, she was quick to say that she plans to return to next year’s bee, though she will study differently then she did this time.
“I’m going to study more and maybe use something that helps with pronunciations of the words,” she said.
This year was the first time Gabriella made it to the National Spelling Bee, and even though she was nervous, she said being on stage helped her and that next year she will not be as nervous.
“I get so nervous. I don’t know how she does it,” Rodriguez said as she watched her daughter walk to the stage.
For now, both Gabriella and Rodriguez are happy to have made it this far.
“I think the biggest thing is just learning from here,” Rodriguez said. “Being honored for just being a part of the 11 million spellers they started out with, and of course we’re very proud of Gabi, her dad and I.”
“It’s pretty amazing to be here in Washington, and I guess it’s just a good learning experience for other competitions that there may be in life,” Gabriella said.
The Scripps National Spelling bee is administered on a not-for-profit basis by The E.W. Scripps Co. of Cincinnati. The winner will receive a $30,000 cash prize and a trophy, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond from Merriam-Webster and $2,000 in reference books from Encyclopaedia Britannica. All 281 spellers in the bee win $100 VISA gift card, with other prizes up to $12,000 for second place.
The semifinals on Thursday will be broadcast live on ESPN2 from noon to 5 p.m., and the finals will be broadcast live on ESPN at 8 p.m.