Fifty spellers have advanced to the semifinals of the National Spelling Bee, including the sister of the 2009 winner and two of last year’s finalists.
Vanya Shivashankar, a 10-year-old fifth-grader from Olanthe, Kansas, was the only competitor to earn a perfect score in the preliminary rounds. Those included two words spelled onstage and a 50-word computer test.
Shivashankar’s older sister, Kavya, won the 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee.
Six-year-old Lori Anne Madison of Lake Ridge, Va., the youngest speller in bee history, did not make the semifinals. Spelling Bee director Paige Kimball said "it was close."
The computer test was much tougher than last year’s, when spellers who got more than two words wrong did not make the semifinals. This year, spellers could miss eight words and still advance.