St. Augustine Speller Advances in National Spelling Bee | People

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St. Augustine Speller Advances in National Spelling Bee
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St. Augustine Speller Advances in National Spelling Bee

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- There was nothing abstract about Grace Remmer's powerful performance Wednesday in the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The home-schooled sixth-grader from St. Augustine aced both her words on stage, including her second one, "Hypotheria," a noun meaning a hypothetical order including the as-yet undiscovered ancestors of mammals.

"I'm thrilled," said Grace, who said she "definitely worked hard" to make it to the next round.

Grace, 12, advances to the next round, one of only 41 out of 275 to make it to Thursday's semifinals. After finishing ninth last year, she has a chance to do even better this year.

She nailed her first word on stage: "febrifugal," an adjective meaning mitigating or removing fever, before correctly spelling "Hypotheria."

"These kids are just amazing," mused Bill Jacks, Grace's grandfather, who attended the bee. "I was walking around saying, 'Do you know how many brain cells there are on that stage?' There are 41 awesomely talented young people out there and we'll see what happens." 

 This year's competition began Tuesday with a 25-word written test, which included such common words as "fourteen" and "drowsy," and head-scratchers like "pinealectomy," and "hukilau." Grace spelled 23 of the written words correctly.

The scores on the written test were combined with the results of Wednesday's two oral rounds to determine which spellers compete in Thursday's semifinal rounds. Grace's total score was 29 (out of a possible 31), just enough to make it to the semifinals. 

If she wins, Grace would be only the third national champion from Florida. The most recent was Nupur Lala in 1999.

A diminutive girl, Grace enjoys knitting, sewing and reading, especially books by Jules Verne. She plays violin and is a member of her church orchestra, the medieval-themed Excalibur Consort ensemble, as well as the Jacksonville Symphony Youth Orchestra, where she has served as concertmaster. 

 Grace also likes to visit Disney World and especially enjoys searching for "Hidden Mickeys" throughout the parks.
Asked what she would do Wednesday night, a beaming Grace had one response: "study."

Semifinalists compete onstage between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Thursday. Finalists compete onstage beginning at 8:30 p.m.  ESPN will broadcast the semifinals and the finals.

Aside from her grandfather, Grace was accompanied by her mother, Jennifer; her brother, Maxwell; and her sister, Julie.

The 275 spellers (138 boys and 137 girls) who started off Wednesday range in age from 8 to 15 and included competitors from China, Ghana, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea.

Three of this year's spellers have competed in three previous bees.

This year's champion will receive $30,000 cash, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond, a $5,000 scholarship and other prizes. Each of the spellers will receive, at minimum, a $100 gift card and a $100 U.S. savings bond.

Last year, Anamika Veeramani, 14, of North Royalton, Ohio, won the bee by correctly spelling "stromuhr," an instrument used to measure blood flow.

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