July 23, 2014

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Bee Buzz: Avon Middle School speller treated like ‘spellebrity’ during first days in D.C.

Kaitlin Hall, of Avon, in the blue T-shirt, attends a Memorial Day barbecue in National Harbor, Md., with other competitors in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. MATT HALL/CHRONICLE

Kaitlin Hall, of Avon, in the blue T-shirt, attends a Memorial Day barbecue in National Harbor, Md., with other competitors in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee. MATT HALL/CHRONICLE

By Matt Hall

Kaitlin arrived at the National Harbor in Maryland near Washington D.C. on Sunday for the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Sunday marks the beginning of “Bee Week.” The spelling Bee is more than one event; it is an elaborate event beginning with an orientation on Sunday and culminating with an awards banquet and party with D.J. on Friday night.

Kaitlin attended the orientation Sunday. At the orientation, each speller/contestant is given a book called a “beekeeper.” The pages of the beekeper contains pictures and bio for each speller, and one line is left blank . Each speller obtains as many signatures of other spellers as they can throughout Bee week. In addition to the other spellers’ signatures, they fill in the blank line with a particular interesting fact about the other speller. It’s a great way for each speller to get to know one another.

Not only has Kaitlin met a bunch of new spellers from this year’s Bee, Kaitlin has been able to see other spellers that she met last year. Of the 281 spellers in this year’s Bee, 78 of the spellers are repeat contestants. Many of the spellers have stayed in touch via Instagram.

On Monday, all of the spellers and families were bused to a park in Maryland for a Memorial Day barbecue. The barbecue is an elaborate event with a D.J., outdoor activities, food and fun.

Tuesday was the computerized “written” test. The written test consists of half spelling and half vocabulary questions. In order to advance to the semi-finals, each contestant must have the highest combined score on the written test and must not have missed a word on stage. Last year Kaitlin did not miss a word on stage but did not score high enough on the written test to advance to the semi-finals. At most, 50 spellers will be able to advance to the semi-finals. Last year only 42 spellers advanced to the semis.

Kaitlin thought the test was a little easier this year than last year, but she still knows she missed some words. Last year the cut-off was four missed words. She will find out around 5 p.m. Wednesday whether or not she will make the semi-finals.

After Tuesday’s written test Kaitlin really felt like a “spellebrity.” ESPN shot Kaitlin and a group of other speller’s on a Ferris Wheel for a comercial to be held during the semi-finals and finals of the spelling Bee. She was also interviewed by “The CBS Morning Show” and The Washington Post.

On Wednesday in the morning and afternoon Kaitlin will spell on stage during the preliminaries. The semi-finals and finals will be held on Thursday. All of the spellers get to tour D.C. on Friday and Friday night is capped off by the awards banquet and a final farewell party.

Here is the Spelling Bee TV Schedule:

  • Preliminaries on Wednesday, May 28 from 8-11:45 a.m. (ESPN3 – online)
  • Preliminaries on Wednesday, May 28 from 1:15-4:45 p.m. (ESPN3 – online)
  • Semifinals on Thursday, May 29 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. (ESPN2)
  • Championship Finals on Thursday, May 29 from 8-10 p.m. EDT (ESPN).

Kaitlin is in the second group of spellers and will be competing in the first round of the preliminaries between 10 a.m. and noon on Wednesday, and she will be in the second round of the preliminaries between 3:15 and 4:45 p.m. Both will only be shown on ESPN3. She will find out around 5 p.m. on Wednesday if she makes the semi-finals.