Local youth eliminated despite correct spellings

BELMONT County’s Champion Speller, Justin Hamilton, correctly spelled both words he received Wednesday during Rounds 2 and 3 in the annual Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C., but he didn’t have enough points overall to advance to the semifinals today.

Undaunted, the Union Local Middle School student, whose parents are Paul and Rachel Hamilton, commented, “I had a blast. It would have been cool to have gone to the semifinals. I did spell my words correctly on Rounds 2 and 3, but now there’s no more stress and I can relax.”

Christine Smith, teacher/spelling coach from Union Local, praised Justin’s performance in the national bee.

“Justin is a hard-working and determined young man,” she said. “He has made Union Local and Belmont County very proud.”

Not making the semifinals hasn’t dampened the county’s champion speller’s enthusiasm for the spelling bee. This was his first trip to Washington, D.C., and it’s evident that he’s been enjoying the trip. “He definitely wants to come back next year, but he knows it’ll be a battle,” Smith said.

The Belmont County group, as of early today, hadn’t received Justin’s total points. Smith thinks the problem regarding Justin’s points may have the vocabulary section on the computer test Tuesday.

It was the first time that a vocabulary section had been included in the national bee, and Union Local student’s reaction after the test was that the spelling part of the computer test was not so hard but the vocabulary section was very hard.

In Wednesday’s part of the bee, Justin spelled “dressage” (the art or method of training a horse in obedience or precision of movement) and “labyrinthine” (resembling a labyrinth; complicated or tortuous) correctly.

Spellers could receive up to 36 points to advance to the semifinals, and Smith said those at the bee were informed that the 41 semifinalists all had scores of 32 or better.

Smith said the Belmont Countians planned to visit the Capitol today with a member of U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson’s staff taking Justin and the group on a personal tour. Johnson’s office was called prior to the trip, and he said that he would not be in town today but he arranged for the tour.

The spelling bee championship finals will be live on ESPN tonight from 8-10.

Friday’s activities will include tours of the nation’s capital during the day with an awards banquet and a farewell party scheduled that night.

Sponsors for the Belmont County Spelling Bee and its champion are The Times Leader, Riesbeck’s Food Markets, Airport Limousine, the East Central Ohio Educational Service Center, Ohio Lottery, The Citizens Bank and AAA Ohio Auto Club.

Pokas can be reached at bettypokas@yahoo.com.