County speller knocked out in online preliminary rounds –

Sarah Thompson, 2021 Columbiana County spelling champ, participates online in the National Spelling Bee from an ESC conference room. (Submitted photo)



LISBON — After correctly spelling her first word, anhinga, county spelling bee champion Sarah Thompson was knocked out in the preliminary rounds of the 2021 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

Thompson, who was sponsored by the Salem News, East Liverpool Review and the Morning Journal, just completed the 6th grade at the Lisbon David Anderson Junior High School. She plans to return next year to compete and said she liked both the in-person format from the past and the online format, which was used this year.

Due to Covid-19, the Scripps National Spelling Bee preliminaries, quarterfinals and semifinals were being conducted online. The finals with only the top 10 to 12 competitors are scheduled to be on a stage at the Walt Disney World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Fla.

On Saturday, each student who qualified was given a time to log in for the preliminary round, which was to include three words.

Thompson logged in from the Columbiana County Educational Service Center conference room, where she was observed while she first spelled anhinga, which is a type of waterbird with a long neck.

Then Thompson was asked to identify the word meaning or definition of the word pharynx, which is the membrane-lined cavity behind the nose and mouth, which connects them to the esophagus. After missing the question, Thompson was not asked the third word.

Although she was only involved in the actual competition a short while, Thompson also got to participate in online events planned around this year’s spelling bee. For instance she said she had fun in an online dance party event with other students. Other events for bee participants included a kickoff party, an opening ceremony, a Merriam-Webster presentation and an online conversation this coming Wednesday with Tae Keller, the author of “When You Trap a Tiger.”

Overall Thompson said she had fun participating in the bee and hopes after the summer break ends to be back spelling again in competition as a 7th grader next school year.

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