Potomac girl competes in Scripps National Spelling Bee
Seventh-grader will go head-to-head against 274 youth this week
Susanna Yau, 13, has spelled her way to the National Harbor for the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
A seventh-grader at the Fourth Presbyterian School in Potomac, Susanna is competing this week against 274 students for $30,000 and an engraved trophy.
"You have to win the county bee and then you go straight to the national bee," Susanna said. "I'm excited."
Susanna secured her ticket to the 2011 Scripps National Spelling Bee by winning the Scripps Regional Spelling Bee for Montgomery County in March. She correctly spelled "rubicon" to win the final round and closed the deal by accurately spelling "ineluctable."
Susanna said she studies spelling for two or three hours daily. Usually her mother quizzes her from lists distributed by Scripps National Spelling Bee or from books.
Two years ago, Susanna won second place in the Montgomery County competition.
"She's a very gifted girl and very bright," said John Murray, headmaster at the Fourth Presbyterian School. "Very well rounded."
Susanna completed the 25-word Round One Test on Tuesday, and said she thinks she only spelled three words incorrectly. All competitors, who range from age 8 to 15, participate in the first three rounds of the spelling bee, earning a preliminary score. Spellers whose preliminary scores are higher than 225 other spellers' preliminary scores will qualify as semifinalists. Fifty participants can reach the semifinals.
Susanna's seventh-grade class will attend the competition today to cheer her on.
Susanna has attended the Fourth Presbyterian School since pre-kindergarten.
"We're all very excited and really proud of her," Murray said.
Other prizes for the champion include a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and reference library from Merriam-Webster; $5,000 from Sigma Phi Epsilon Education Foundation; $2,600 in reference works and a lifetime membership to Britannica Online Premium from Encyclopaedia Britannica; and an online course and Nook eReader from K12 Inc.
Susanna, whose favorite subjects are history and The Bible, said she is excited about competing, and a tad nervous. But words come easy to her.
"I just find them interesting," she said.
Tune in to the spelling bee on ESPN: Preliminaries, ESPN3, 8 a.m. today; Semifinals, ESPN, 10 a.m. Thursday; and Finals, ESPN, 8:30 p.m. Thursday.