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Brown County eighth-grader Mary Skirvin in Scripps National Spelling Bee semifinals this afternoon
Updated on: 05.30.13

Mary Skirvin, a Brown County eighth-grader, has qualified to compete in the 2013 Scripps National Spelling Bee semifinals taking place this afternoon in Washington, D.C. The event will air from 2-5 p.m. on ESPN2.

Skirvin -- identified as speller no. 74 on the bee's Web site -- is one of 42 youngsters who made it through qualifying rounds in D.C. Wednesday.

The 281 contestants who made it to the national level completed a written test with vocabulary and spelling questions, then participated in two spelling rounds. Any misspelling in those two rounds resulted in immediate disqualification this year.

Skirvin correctly spelled “synchronous” and “telencephalon,” and her score on the written test qualified her for the semifinals, explained Mary’s mother, Dana, who is with her in D.C.

Skirvin earned her trip to the national event in February by winning the regional competition at Indiana University. She won the school-level contest at Brown County Junior High School before that.

“Mary’s just driven. She’s self-motivated, and this is something she really immersed herself in and was passionate about,” said Brad Baughman, who co-coaches Brown County Junior High School’s Spell Bowl Team with Kevin Roush.

To prepare for the bee, Skirvin has been hauling the official, 10.6-pound competition dictionary with her, her mother said. They also studied at home, working out a white board system with differently colored inks to help Skirvin remember words she’d spelled correctly, and those she needed to work on.

As a reward for reaching goals in her studies, Skirvin and her mom would watch episodes of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in French.

Semifinalists took a second written qualifying test yesterday, and the scores on that, with this afternoon’s spelling rounds, will determine who moves on to tonight’s finals, set to air at 8 p.m. Though the number of students who move on can vary, it will be around 12.

-- Megan O'Bryan, Brown County Democrat

2:49 p.m. UPDATE: Skirvin was eliminated from the bee on the word "laureation," transposing the "i" and the "t."

This was her first time at the national bee.

Obituaries
See Full List »

Josephine Lee Cueto, 62, Morgantown
  Daughter of Priscilla Burgmeier of Nashville

Mary 'Jane' Kollman, 92, Nashville
  Mother of Janet (Tom) Gaskins of Nashville

Charlotte K. (Adkins) Wilson, 67, Franklin
  Former resident of Brown County

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