By Chris Kieffer
TUPELO – Tupelo Middle School’s Maria Kaltchenko has advanced to the semifinals of the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.
Kaltchenko, a rising eighth-grader, is among 46 spellers still alive in the competition. She will compete today between 9 a.m. and noon in an event that will air on ESPN2.
The contest began with 281 spellers, who each took a computer-based test on Tuesday and then advanced to two rounds of an onstage competition on Wednesday. Kaltchenko correctly spelled both of her words – “forsythia” and “raclette” – as did 222 other competitors. Scores from the computer test were then used to choose semifinalists, with no more than 50 being selected.
Kaltchenko will take another computer test this morning. She then will compete in up to two onstage rounds that will air on ESPN2.
The results of that and the computer test will be used to select no more than 12 finalists, who will compete tonight.
The championship will air live tonight on ESPN between 7 and 9 p.m.
Kaltchenko advanced to the national competition by winning the Mid-South Spelling Bee in Memphis in March. She reached that event by winning both the Tupelo School District and Lee County competitions for the second consecutive year.
She is believed to be the first Tupelo student to qualify for the National Spelling Bee in at least 43 years.
The computer test will feature both spelling and multiple-choice vocabulary questions.