Five-year-old girl qualifies For National Spelling Bee
A five-year-old girl scripted history by becoming the youngest contestant to ever qualify for the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. this May.
The girl, Edith Fuller out-spelled more than 50 other older contestants to win the 2017 Scripps Green Country Regional Spelling Bee in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
“The Scripps National Spelling Bee is very proud of all of its spellers who advance and win their regional bee to qualify for the national final,” a Scripps spokesman told ABC News. “We certainly look forward to welcoming Edith Fuller and all of our more than 280 national spellers who will come to National Harbor in May to compete and enjoy a memorable Bee week.”
After more than four hours of competing against children almost three times her age, she had advanced to the final round at the Scripps Green Country Regional Spelling Bee in Tulsa.
“Juh-nah-nuh,” emphasis on the second syllable, was the pronunciation of the word the announcer gave her.
“Juh-nah-nuh,” she replied. “Will you please give me the language of origin?” Edith asked, with the quiet but confident voice of someone far beyond her years.
It’s “a Sanskrit word,” the voice on the microphone said. Edith raised her eyebrows, asking for the definition.
“Knowledge, used in Hinduism.”
“Juh-nah-nuh,” Edith repeated. “J-N-A-N-A. Jnana.”
After correctly spelling the word ‘jnana,’ Fuller was guaranteed a spot in the National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C., where she will compete against kids from across the country as old as 15. She also knocked out words such as Panglossian, Baedeker, nisei, Croesus and sarsaparilla.
Edith’s mother Annie Fuller said the family first discovered Edith’s skill in spelling last summer, as they sat around the table for dinner one night. The parents were quizzing her on spelling, and asked her to spell “restaurant.” She spelled the word without having been taught the word, and the parents knew they had discovered something exciting.
“She is very bright,” Fuller told KJRH. “We were amazed to find that she really has a knack for spelling and can remember words that she’s seen or heard very easily.”
She then showed Edith a video of a spelling bee on YouTube, and Edith was enthralled.
“We knew there was something special there,” Fuller told the Tulsa World, before explaining Edith prepared for the competition by studying words with her family. Anytime she misspelled a word, she would look it up and learn its definition and spelling.
“Mommy asked me words, and each time I would misspell one, I would look at it,” Edith said.
“Learning the words was so educational,” the proud mother continued, “She was able to learn about different countries and cultures and different kinds of food,” which probably came in very handy with her winning word.
Edith’s mother’s greatest surprise wasn’t her daughter’s spelling prowess, but rather her perfect behaviour that she showed during the four hours and 18 rounds of competition.
“She likes to move around,” she disclosed. “I’m surprised she sat still for so long.” She’s only 5 after all.
While Edith has a great deal of practising to do before travelling to Washington, she said she plans to make time for fun, too. “Maybe like play outside or play piano, maybe study animals,” Edith said.
Before Fuller’s stunning achievement, the youngest speller last year was a 6-year-old Akash Vukoti from San Angelo, Texas, who lost after misspelling the word “bacteriolytic” in the early rounds.
Edith will take an expenses-paid trip to compete in the 90th Scripps National Spelling Bee scheduled for May 28 to June 3, 2017 in Washington, D.C. The National Spelling Bee is open to contestants who haven’t passed Grade 8. There is no minimum age to compete.