Correct Spelling of "Pessimum" Leads Only SoCal Speller to Bee Semifinals

This year's competition includes vocabulary questions, a first in the event's 86-year history

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    NEWSLETTERS

    ScrippsBee
    Isabel Cholbi. of San Bernardino, competes Wednesday May 29, 2013 at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

    Correct spellings of "ogival," "brouhaha" and "pessimum" helped three Southern California students advance through the preliminary rounds Wednesday in the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

    But only one Southern Californian made it to the semifinals.

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    The preliminaries, involving nearly 300 competitors, began Wednesday morning at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Md.

    Semifinalists were announced just before 4 p.m. PT, and just one Southern Californian made the cut: Isabel Cholbi of San Bernardino. It's her second appearance at the bee, and her first as a semifinalist.

    Forty-one spellers advanced to the semifinals. The round included a computer-based test, conducted Wednesday afternoon, that asked competitors to spell and define words.

    The semifinal spelling round continues Thursday before the finals later that day.

    Southern California Students in the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee:

    Isabel Cholbi, San Bernardino: Isabel is a seventh-grader at Cesar E. Chavez Middle School in San Bernardino. Sponsored by the San Bernardino Spelling Bee Collaborative, Cholbi is pictured at right.

    She spelled "pessimum" correctly in Round 3 after spelling "escargot" in Round 2.

    Rebecca Baron, Los Angeles: Rebecca is an eight-grader at Chatsworth Hills Academy. She is sponsored by the Los Angeles Spelling Bee Collaborative.

    She spelled "trattoria" correctly to advance in the preliminary round. She spelled "ogival" correctly in the third round.

    Soleil Rosalinda Jones, Oxnard: Soleil is an eighth-grader at Juan Soria School in Oxnard. She is sponsored by the Ventura County Star. 

    Soleil spelled "gauche" correctly in Round 2 and advanced from Round 3 by spelling "'brouhaha."

    Hannah Silvestro, Pomona: Hannah, a sixth-grader and St. Margaret Mary School in Chino, is sponsored by Friends of the Diamond Bar Library.

    Hannah spelled "gourami" correctly in the second preliminary round. In Round 3, Hannah spelled "quadragenarian" incorrectly.

    Katie Peterson, Riverside: Katie, an eighth-grader at Palm Desert Charter Middle School, is sponsored by The Press-Enterprise. Katie spelled "kirtle" correctly in the preliminary round. In Round 3, she spelled "totipotency" incorrectly.

    Alan Shi, Santa Ana: Alan, an eight-grader at Sierra Vista Middle School, is sponsored by the OC Register. Alan was eliminated in Round 2 after he spelled "cynosure" incorrectly.

    Zerin E. Wetzel, Fort Irwin: Zerin is an eight-grader at Fort Irwin Middle School. She is sponsored by the Daily Press. She spelled "commissar" incorrectly in the second round.

    This year's competition included a vocabulary component for the first time in 86 years. The vocabulary evaluation accounts for 50 percent of a speller's overall score and determine who will advance to the semifinal and final rounds.

    Sample questions include: What does it mean to appertain? (To belong either as something appropriate or as an attribute.) And, what does it mean to winnow? (To take out undesired parts.)

    Competitors -- 281 will compete in the preliminary round -- will not be required to define words in the final round.