Thursday, June 02, 2005

Ottawa speller upbeat despite being eliminated

PUBLICATION: The Ottawa Citizen
DATE: 2005.06.02
EDITION: Final
SECTION: News
PAGE: A3
BYLINE: Hayley Mick
SOURCE: The Ottawa Citizen
ILLUSTRATION: Photo: Chris Mikula, The Ottawa Citizen / Jennifer Hurd ofOttawa takes part in the written portion of the spelling bee yesterday. Jennifer failed to get out of the first round.

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Ottawa speller upbeat despite being eliminated

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Ottawa spelling champion Jennifer Hurd spelled kaolinize correctly, but it wasn't enough to avoid disqualification from the most ruthless spelling bee on Earth.

Jennifer racked up a total of 19 out of a possible 28 points in yesterday's written portion of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, and spelled one word correctly at the microphone in Round 2, but her total was too low to take her into the third round.

Nevertheless, she felt "fine" about her performance.

The two-day contest began yesterday with 273 top spellers from across the United States and several other countries.

Jennifer's elimination marked the end of more than three months of intense practice. The 12-year-old advanced as the top speller in Ottawa and placed third at the CanWest CanSpell National Spelling Bee in April.

In Washington, Jennifer mingled with many U.S. spellers -- all aged 10 to 14 -- who took spelling practice to a new level.

"Some down here try to memorize the dictionary," she said. "I wouldn't try and do that."

"We just watched one girl get eliminated in Round 3 that we know has studied the dictionary all year," added her mother, Karen Hurd. "You wonder, was that worth it?"

For now, Jennifer will enjoy a few more days of sightseeing before heading home.

Her family drove south two days early and has so far visited Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, the National Zoo, and several other attractions.

Jennifer, who is home schooled, says she's not sure whether she has the stomach for another year of spelling contests. She'll make that decision later, she said.

"Spelling is not my favourite thing to do," she said. "Once this is done, I'll probably go back and do things I actually like."

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