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Proud of her accomplishment

  • National Spelling Bee champ Danielle Smith (center) is relaxed as she awaits her turn at the microphone during the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

  • National Spelling Bee champion Danielle Smith takes her turn at the microphone during the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. PHOTOS: ALICIA BRENNEN

Guardian Lifestyles Editor

Published: Jun 05, 2013

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National Spelling Bee champion, Danielle Smith, did not advance past the preliminaries of the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee, but just the experience of taking to an international stage to represent her country has left the pre-teen with much to be pleased about. And she says any disappointment she may have felt she got over pretty quickly

The 12-year-old eighth grade student at St. John’s College described her experience in Washington, D.C. as “awesome”.

“I got the opportunity to participate in an international competition, met new people and took on a new challenge. It was a great experience,” she said. “I will probably most remember spelling on stage.”

Arvind Mahhankali, 13, of New York City, won with the correct spelling of “knaidel” to win more than $30,000 in cash and prizes and a huge trophy. Arvind had finished third the two previous years, eliminated both times on German words.

Danielle took the computer-based test and participated in two rounds of spelling on stage. She spelt both her words “tertiary” and “glaucomatous” correctly. But, a speller’s qualification for the semifinals and championship final was based on their cumulative score that incorporated onstage spelling, computer-based spelling questions and computer-based vocabulary questions. In a twist to this year’s competition, Danielle and her fellow Bee competitors also had to know the meanings of words. Vocabulary evaluation counted for 50 percent of a speller’s overall score. The score determined which spellers advance to the semifinals and the championship finals on ESPN.

Danielle’s scores did not advance her through. In that moment she said she was disappointed.

“Of course I was disappointed, but I got over it more quickly than I thought I would. And I wasn’t as sad as I thought I would be. I’m alright,” she said. “I went there to try my hardest and enjoy the experience and it was really enjoyable.”

The reigning champ’s advice to the next person who aspires to be the country’s representative at the Scripps National Spelling Bee is to start studying from now, perusing the dictionary.

Danielle had just two months and two days to prepare herself for Scripps after capturing the Bahamian title on March 24.

She was one of 281 spellers from the 50 United 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 Canada, China, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea vying for the coveted Scripps crown.

Danielle was one of 97 spellers for whom Bee Week marked their first visit to the United States capital.

In the history of the Bee (1925-2013) there have been two winners from the Caribbean claiming the title — Puerto Rico’s Hugh Tosteson in 1975 with the correct spelling of incisor and Jamaica’s Jody-Anne Maxwell in 1998 who correctly spelled chiaroscurist.


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