It was down to four students.
Two were quickly felled, by “sacerdotal” (“of or relating to priests or a
priesthood”) and “brankursine” (“a prickly European herb having rough, fuzzy
leaves”). Eventually the third finalist missed “presbytery,” and Giabao Tonthat,
a student at Heritage K-8 Charter in Escondido was one word away from being the
San Diego County Spelling Bee champion.
“Bonspiel,” said the Bee Master,
Dr. David Hay. Hay, in his 32nd year as Bee Master, is an Adjunct Professor of
English/Coordinator of International Faculty Programs at the University of San
Diego. Tonthat asked for word origin and for the Bee Master to use the word in a
sentence before finally beginning to spell.
“B-O-N-S-P-I-E-L,” he said,
softly, as the crowd assembled in Balboa Park’s Hall of Champions held its
Dr. Hay announced that Tonthat had spelled the word
correctly and the audience erupted into cheers.
The 44th Annual U-T San
Diego Countywide Spelling Bee began with 107 students, all 7th and 8th graders,
and ended with one champion. Tonthat will go on to represent San Diego County at
the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington D.C., May 28-30, 2013.
“The Spelling Bee is one of the most time-honored of all academic
competitions,” said Nicole Shina, who coordinates the Spelling Bee for the San
Diego County Office of Education. “It’s a nice reminder that even in a world
where we’re all texting and tweeting, spelling is important.”
has a history of making a strong showing at the national level. Last year’s U-T
San Diego Countywide Spelling Bee champion, Francis Parker School student
Snigdha Nandipati, won the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee. San Diego also is
home to Anurag Kashyap, the 2005 national champion; Kashyap attended Meadowbrook
Middle School in the Poway Unified School District.
Along with U-T San
Diego, the 44th Annual Countywide Spelling Bee was co-sponsored by the San Diego
County Office of Education, San Diego County Credit Union, iTV Cable 16, San
Diego Hall of Champions, and Southwest Airlines.