Thursday, May 28, 2009
Today is a very big day for 41 spellers, the semi-final round of the National Spelling Bee takes is about to begin. You already know that 252 spellers are out of the competition, but that hasn't stopped them or their parents from crowding into the Independence Ballroom to cheer on the remaining competitors. There are a number of returning spellers and there are clearly early favorites. We are rooting for Kennyi Aouad because Daniel and Kennyi became friends during their first trips to the Bee and have remained friendly since. Barbara and Michael are sitting with the general audience, but Daniel has been invited to sit with Sala, Kennyi's mother, in the family section of the ballroom.
Many of you have watched this round on ESPN, so I won't give you the blow-by-blow. I can tell you that everyone in the room was riveted by the competition, including Tom Bergeron, who is hosting tonight's finals. In the end, eleven spellers will go on to the final round and our Kennyi is still standing. I'm not 100% certain that my scorekeeping is accurate, but I believe that three of the eleven finalists are in the Bee for the first time, that is quite an accomplishment.
After the competition, we had a terrific lunch in Matchbox, a restaurant recommended by our friend Sam Sheinberg. We had wood-fired pizzas with an heirloom tomato salad that was simply yummy. Then, it was on to the National Portrait Gallery, where our docent took us up to the area with all of the athletes' portraits. Here too, we each had a favorite, Daniel's was a painting of Muhammad Ali, Michael's was of golfer Jack Nicklaus, and Barbara was taken with a very simple portrait of tennis great Arthur Ashe. None of us had ever been to this arm of the Smithsonian Museum, but we are certain to return.
I'll try to post later tonight, but now, we're waiting for the moment when the doors will open for the Scripps National Spelling Bee Championship Finals Live on ABC. By the end of the evening there will be a newly crowned champion. We can't wait!