An eighth-grader from Tustin was among 16 spellers advancing Thursday to the closing portion of the 92nd Scripps National Spelling Bee, correctly spelling five words.
Nicholas D’Sa correctly spelled basileus, a ruler of the Eastern Roman Empire, in the fourth round; chorea, a movement disorder marked by involuntary spasmodic movements especially of the limbs and facial muscles in the fifth; atala, a brightly colored butterfly native to southeastern Florida and the West Indies, in the sixth; capillaire, a syrup prepared from a delicate maidenhair fern, in the seventh; and huiscoyol, a shrubby Central American palm, in the eighth.
The bee is set to resume at 5:30 p.m. PDT at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center in National Harbor, Maryland, near Washington, D.C.
The finals began Thursday with 50 spellers. The field was reduced to 40 following the fourth round, 34 following the fifth, 29 following the sixth and 25 following the seventh.
To reach the finals, spellers had to correctly spell two words on stage and score high enough on a spelling and vocabulary test.
Nicholas correctly spelled nepotism, a noun meaning favoritism, as in appointment to a job, based on kinship, in the second round and macronutrient, a chemical element or substance, such as potassium or protein, that is essential in relatively large amounts to the growth and health of a living organism, in the third round, both on Tuesday.
The spellers took a multiple-choice test with 12 spelling words and 14 vocabulary questions on Monday. The test is considered the bee’s first round.
The finalists are determined by the test scores of the spellers who correctly spelled their third-round words. The finals are limited to a maximum of 50 spellers.
Spellers’ scores are plotted on a chart beginning at 36. Spellers at each consecutive scoring level are added until no more than 50 spellers are attained.
Spellers received one point for each of the 12 items correctly identified in the spelling portion of the test, one point for each of the 12 items correctly identified in the initial vocabulary section, three points for a correct answer to the lone item in the second vocabulary section, and three points for a correct answer to the lone item in the third vocabulary section.
The lowest score to advance to the finals was 30.
Nicholas earned a spot in the national bee by winning the Orange County Spelling Bee. An Orange County speller has never won the national bee.
Following his victory March 2, the 13-year-old said he planned “to study a couple hours every day for nationals so that I can make the most of the opportunity to represent Orange County.”
Nicholas attends St. Cecilia Catholic School, is a first-degree black belt in tae kwon do and has played the piano since second grade. His favorite athlete is tennis star Roger Federer.
The original field consisted of spellers from all 50 states and the District of Columbia, along with American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense schools in Europe. Seven foreign nations were also represented — the Bahamas, Canada, Germany, Ghana, Jamaica, Japan and South Korea.
The winner will receive a record $50,000 cash prize, $10,000 more than last year, from Scripps, which owns television stations and newspapers.
The winner also receives $2,500 and a complete reference library from the dictionary publisher Merriam-Webster; reference works and a three-year online membership from Encyclopedia Britannica, plus trips to Hollywood to appear on the ABC late-night program “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and New York City to appear on the syndicated morning talk show “Live with Kelly and Ryan.”
The bee is intended “to inspire children to improve their spelling, increase their vocabularies and develop correct English usage that will help them all their lives,” according to Paige Kimble, the bee’s executive director and 1981 champion.
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