The Norse gods might have been watching over Heejae Chang last night, as she correctly spelled "Aesir" to win The Blade 2005 Northwest Ohio Championship Spelling Bee against 60 other top regional spellers.
Heejae, a sixth grader at Crim Elementary School in Bowling Green, quickly and confidently spelled the name for the chief gods of pagan Scandinavia after spelling "daven," a verb meaning to recite the prescribed prayers in the daily and festival Jewish liturgies.
Heejae, 12, will receive an all-expense paid trip to Washington in late May to compete in the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.
"I think it's going to be really cool," she said.
She also won a dictionary, a $100 U.S. Savings Bond, a family membership to the Toledo Museum of Art, and several gift certificates from area retailers.
Matthew Scherreik, an eighth grader at Bowling Green Christian Academy, came in second after he misspelled "daven." He said his mother helped him study, and he has always been good speller.
Connor Perrine, a sixth grader at Whittier Elementary School in Toledo, placed third.
It was the second time Heejae and Matthew came in first and second. They competed against one another in the Wood County bee in late February.
Heejae said she had been studying for the regional contest ever since and knew most of the words given last night. She sometimes shook her head after other contestants finished misspelling words.
"I like to talk and read, so I suppose that helps," Heejae said.
Students in grades five through eight from across northwest Ohio competed in the bee, held in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts at Owens Community College's campus in Perrysburg Township.
Mary Mackzum, The Blade's head librarian, pronounced the words for each contestant. Some contestants spelled with confidence, some with hesitation after asking for definitions and sentences using the words.
London Smith, a seventh grader at Archbold Middle School, got the first big applause from the audience early in round two when he correctly spelled "decalcomania," the art or process of transferring pictures and designs typically from specially prepared paper to china, glass, or marble.
None of the contestants spelled perfectly last night. In round three, when only six students were left, all six misspelled their words.
Heejae, after lifting the sign bearing her number and tracing letters on it, missed "amaurosis," a partial or total loss of sight from a disease of the optic nerve, retina, or brain without any perceptible external change in the eye.
Matthew missed "lambrequin," a short decorative drapery for a shelf edge or for the top of a window casing.
All six contestants were given a second word. Heejae spelled "achondroplasia," the failure of normal development of cartilage resulting in dwarfism, and Matthew spelled "trebuchet," a medieval military engine similar to a catapult.
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