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Hoosier Students Preparing For National Spelling Bee

Last updated on Wednesday, May 27, 2009

(WASHINGTON, D-C) - 14 Hoosier students are among the record number of 293 competitors in the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, DC.

Sameer Mishra of West Lafayette won the national championship last year.

Three veteran Hoosier spellers are competing this year: 14 year-olds "Vibe" Vavilala of Carmel and William Feng of Indianapolis and 13 year-old Kennyi Aouad of Terre Haute.

The competition is open to students in grades four through eight and this year includes 22 students from Canada and one each from China, Europe, Ghana, New Zealand and South Korea.

The contestants survived local spelling bees to advance to the national bee.

All contestants participate in Tuesday's preliminary round beginning with 50 words to spell using a computer keyboard.

Only 25 of the words will count toward their preliminary score.

On Wednesday, they'll spell two words orally onstage.

The combined written and oral score will determine who makes the cut for Thursday's semifinal, televised on ESPN.

The final round will be broadcast in primetime Thursday evening on ABC-TV.

The Indianapolis Star reports this will be the last year the newspaper will sponsor contestants in local spelling bees that advance to the national bee.

An Indy Star spokesman cited a decline in student interest and a revision in how the Scripps Organization funds the national spelling bee as the reason for the change.

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