Spelling it Out

WASHINGTON, D.C. – A Johnstown native did well Wednesday in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, but did not come out on top.

Knox Junior High School student Katie Ammann, 13, was eliminated in round three of the spelling bee.

The bee features five rounds: a computerized test, two rounds of preliminaries, semifinals and finals.

In the first round of preliminaries, Katie spelled “mistletoe” correctly. She was asked in the second round to spell “oppugn,” defined as “to call into question the truth or validity of a statement, claim or fact.” Katie said she spelled the word “a-p-p-u-n-e.”

Katie’s father, Paul Ammann, said he was proud of his daughter, but was annoyed with the word choice.

“Yeah, it was frustrating,” he said.

Katie was sent to Washington, after winning the Fulton County Regional Spelling Bee.

Deb Ammann, Katie’s mother, said she contacted teachers at Knox, who all said they had never heard of the word “oppugn” before.

Katie said even if she had not been eliminated with “oppugn,” she did not score high enough on the computerized test, which stressed spelling and vocabulary, to reach the semi-finals. According to Deb Ammann, Katie scored 12 on the test, not enough to advance. Words like “Magellan,” “profundity” and “ritenuto” were on the test.

Katie said she was taking the loss well, and was surprised to make it as far as she did.

“It was an honor even to make it to the [national spelling bee],” Katie said.

Katie said she expected life to go back to normal Monday, but she knew she would need to talk to people about her experiences in the Capitol.

For competing, Katie was given a Microsoft Surface NT tablet; Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged; the Samuel Louis Sugarman Award; educational tools including a 12-month subscription to Microsoft Office 365 Home Edition; and a one-year membership to Britannica Online Premium.

The Ammanns said they now plan on enjoying the Capitol today and Friday before they come home Saturday. Katie said the family plans on going to the International Spy Museum at some point.

Katie said her little brother, Shawn, 9, may compete next year in the Fulton County Spelling Bee, and hopes to make it to Washington.

According to the Scripps National Spelling Bee website, this year 281 spellers from the 50 U.S. states, American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Department of Defense Schools in Europe competed in the bee.

The Scripps National Spelling Bee semifinals began on ESPN2 today at 10 a.m., and the finals are scheduled tonight on ESPN at 8 p.m.