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    L.A.’s guy at the Scripps Spelling Bee is tripped up by the word “desinent”
    • May 30, 2024

    The 12-year-old spelling whiz kid from Los Angeles tripped up Wednesday, May 29, on the word “desinent” in the fourth round of the 96th Scripps National Spelling Bee in Maryland and was eliminated from the finals.

    Oliver Halkett, a sixth-grader at The Mirman School in the Santa Monica Mountains overlooking the San Fernando Valley, misspelled the adjective that means “forming an end” by choosing the incorrect spelling “desonant.” Katelyn Nguyen, a seventh-grader in Orange County,  was also tossed out after she misspelled “ritsu,” a Buddhist school. She spelled it “ritzu.”

    “The bee has been an enlightening experience,” Oliver said on Wednesday. “I’ve met so many new people and seen so many new things. Even though I did get (tossed) out, I learned a lot from it.”

    He said he will be using new techniques to ready himself for the next bee challenge.

    With the contest limited to students in eighth grade or below, Oliver will have the opportunity to compete in next year’s Scripps contest.

    His mother, Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, who accompanied her son to Maryland, said, “Oliver was devastated when he first got (tossed) out, but is feeling better now. … To tie for 60th out of millions of spellers in this country is incredible. He has several years left (to compete). Rome wasn’t built in a day.”

    Oliver started Wednesday by correctly spelling “desiccate,” a verb meaning to dry up. And he then chose the correct answer to the vocabulary question “Acerbity is?” selecting “a manner that is harsh, biting or irritated.”

    In the third round, Oliver correctly spelled doxycycline, a broad-spectrum tetracycline antibiotic used orally to treat various bacterial infections.

    There were 54 spellers eliminated in the first round, 15 in the second and 28 in the third.

    Ibrahim Zaki, 13, who attends Golden Valley Charter School and was the only student in the bee from Ventura County, was eliminated in the second round.

    The bee began with a field of 245 spellers from all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Canada, the Bahamas, Germany and Ghana. The field is the largest since 2019. Contestants for the 96th edition of the national bee range in age from 8 to 15.

    To date, no speller from Los Angeles County has ever won the longstanding Scripps National Spelling Bee. For those students who are still in the game, the champion round will be held on Thursday, May 30 from 5 to 7 p.m. Pacific time.

    ​ Orange County Register