Ashley DeVore spelled “hypoxemia” and “pleasance” correctly, but the Lexington eighth-grader did not advance to the finals of the Scripps National Spelling Bee Wednesday night.
Forty-one contestants moved on to the final round of competition out of 516 initial spellers, the most to ever compete in the bee’s history. Finalists were required to spell their words correctly during the onstage rounds, and the remaining contestants were then decided by a preliminary spelling and vocabulary test taken before spellers took the stage.
DeVore, who is home schooled and is sponsored by the Scripps Howard First Amendment Center at the University of Kentucky, did not meet the cutoff score to advance to the finals, along with over 300 other competitors.
The playing field was almost doubled this year thanks to the new RSVBee program, which added 238 students who came from highly competitive areas or did not have sponsors to the Bee. Otherwise, students have to win their regional bees to compete at the national level.
DeVore had been competing in the regional bee, which covers 90 Kentucky counties, since third grade, and had come in second place twice.
“It’s really exciting to finally get to be here after so many years,” Ashley said during the competition.
Kim DeVore, Ashley's mother, said Ashley started spelling as soon as she could read.
“She just has a love for words,” said Kim. “It’s just fun and exciting for her to finally have this opportunity.”
To prepare for bees, Ashley said she studies a dictionary of suffixes and prefixes, and also works on roots, in addition to studying the official Scripps bee study guide.
Although she did not move on to the final round of the competition, which is held in National Harbor, Maryland, the DeVores have been making the most of their time in Washington, D.C., visiting popular national monuments with family.
The 2018 competition is the 91st National Spelling Bee, which started in 1925. The competition has been held consecutively with exceptions in 1943-1945 when it was canceled due to World War II.
The national finals, with 15 competitors, will be broadcast today from 8:30-10:30 pm on ESPN.