MUMS eighth-grader from Cornwall claims 33rd in national spelling bee
CORNWALL — Two-time Vermont Spelling Bee winner Ronan Howlett of Cornwall notched a very respectable tie for 33rd place at the Scripps National Spelling Bee held last week at National Harbor, Md., outside Washington, D.C.
Howlett, 14 and an eighth-grader at Middlebury Union Middle School, successfully spelled the words “cheka” (a former Soviet secret police division) and “syndic” (an agent of a university or corporation). And like his competitors, he also participated in a new vocabulary component to the competition. He defined “juggernaut” (a massive, crushing force), “tomography” (a technique of x-ray photography) and “pseudandry” (use of a masculine pen name by a woman). He also successfully completed two written tests.
But he met his Waterloo in round 5, correctly defining “truculence” (the state of being cruel or belligerent), but misspelling the word “parapsychical” (he spelled it paracycical).
Howlett told the Burlington Free Press he was glad to make it to the semifinal round.
Arvind Mahankali, 13, from Bayside Hills, N.Y., correctly spelled “knaidel” (defined as a “small mass of leavened dough”) in the 16th round to win the competition.
The Scripps National Spelling Bee this year drew 281 top spellers from the 50 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense Dependents Schools in Europe; as well as the Bahamas, Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.
Speller Tara Singh, 8, of Louisville, Ken., was the youngest speller in this year’s competition. The spellers ranged in age from 8 to 14, but 89 percent were between the ages of 12 and 14. Of this year’s group, 52 percent were girls and 48 percent were boys
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