Bee champion looks to next challenge

May 28, 2008|By John-John Williams IV | John-John Williams IV,SUN REPORTER

Andrew Risinger, the eighth-grader who won this year's Howard County Library Spelling Bee, set his sights this week on a much bigger challenge.

The 13-year-old student at Patapsco Middle School is taking preliminary tests in hopes of qualifying to be among the 100 quarterfinalists in the 2008 Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington.

Yesterday morning, Andrew and 287 other hopefuls took an online spelling test and today are scheduled to take an oral test where each spells one word. The results of both tests will be averaged, and the top 100 students will advance to tomorrow's quarterfinals, which will be broadcast live from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. on

On Friday, ESPN will broadcast the semifinals live from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., and ABC will show the finals live from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. The event is being held at the Grand Hyatt Washington hotel.

Andrew left for the competition Sunday night. After yesterday's online test, he attended a picnic with other contestants at Turkey Run Park in McLean, Va.

"It's an awesome experience to meet people from all over the country," said Andrew, who is among eight Marylanders vying for the title. "They are amazing kids."

Andrew relied on an old Bob Hope movie he saw in French class to remember how to spell pompadour when he defeated 57 competitors to win the county title in March.

For the national competition, he watched the 2006 movie Akeelah and the Bee for inspiration.

As a result of the movie, Andrew said, he began to focus on studying root words.

"If you figure out how they work, you can get a very good sense of how bigger words work," he said.

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