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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Six-year-old to become youngest ever Spelling Bee contestant

A six-year-old girl will this week become the youngest ever contestant in the annual National Spelling Bee in the US.

Lori Anne Madison's favourite word is sprachgefuhl 
Photo: AP

28 May 2012

Lori Anne Madison was reading before she was two. When her mother tried to enrol her in a private school for the gifted, the headmaster said Lori Anne was too smart to accommodate and needed to be home-schooled.

"She's like a teenager in a six-year-old body," her mother, Sorina, said. "Her brain, she understands things way ahead of her age."

When Lori Anne spelt "vaquero" to win the regional bee in Prince William County, Virginia, in March, she set a new standard for youth in the national bee's 87-year history.

"It was shocking," her mother said. "I didn't expect all the media attention. We're private people. We're regular people. It was intimidating. But I'm happy for her. She loves it and she does it because it's a passion, and we never push her into anything and want her to make her own choices."

On all the attention she's getting Lori Anne said: "I asked for no interviews, but the media seems to be disobeying me, and that's why we're looking for snails and water slugs right now."

Asked to spell her favourite word, she raced through the letters of "sprachgefuhl" like a blur. Asked to spell it backward, she paused a bit and had to take her time, but she got it right.

"It's even crazier backwards than it is forwards," she said with a giggle. "Now let's look for some slugs or snails."

The spelling bee does not have a lower age limit, but no one younger than 8 had ever previously qualified for the nationals. Spellers can compete until they are 15, or until they've completed eighth grade.

"She doesn't sit at a table for hours to study anything. I mean, she's 6," Sorina said with laugh. "She's still a 6-year-old, and we want to allow her to be a 6-year-old."

But, at this pace, she'll be a spelling bee force for years to come.

Asked how she thinks she'll do this year, Lori Anne simply answered, "Great" and kept on hunting.

Source: AP

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