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Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tommy and the Spelling Bee

 We asked the Foster family to update us on their experience at this year's Scripps National Spelling Bee.  Tommy Foster won both the LIFE of Tampa Spelling Bee back in January, and the Regional Spelling Bee in March to go on to complete at the National Bee in Washington DC held earlier this month.  This year's winner is 14 year old Sukyana Roy, of PA, who hung in through a vigorous 21 word final match with four other finalists.  This was Tommy's second run at the National Bee - and he plans to be back for a third.

Here's the Foster's report for LIFE of Tampa:

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"We had a great time -- the folks at Scripps work hard to put a fun week together.  Everything runs like clockwork, and everyone is friendly and helpful.  All 275 kids, their families, and their sponsors were treated to a BBQ at Gunston Hall on Memorial Day -- tons of food, karaoke, games, crafts, and the opportunity to tour Gunston Hall.
"On Tuesday, it was down to business, with Round 1, a twenty-five word written test.  We spent the rest of the day exploring the hotel (the Gaylord National) and the National Harbor area.
"Spelling up on the stage, in front of the cameras, and a huge audience, started on Wednesday and was broadcast live on ESPN2.  Each speller participated in two rounds.  Tommy nailed both of his words -- rejoneador and gallipot.
"Wednesday evening, the semifinalists were announced.  Only 41 of the 275 spellers were allowed to advance.  You could hear a pin drop in the ballroom as their numbers were called, in random order.  Unfortunately, Tommy's number wasn't called.  His official final standing is "Tied for 42nd place".

"Thursday, we cheered on the semifinalists, and then the finalists.  These amazing kids spelled for over 4 1/2 hours before the field was narrowed down to the thirteen spellers who would compete that night.  ESPN did a wonderful job with all of their coverage of the bee.  They included many spellers in their prime time broadcast, including Tommy, who demonstrated his human pretzel technique!  The top spellers were absolutely phenomenal.  It was a shame that only one of them could walk away with the trophy at the end of the night.

"Friday was the last day of Bee Week, and the busiest.  Scripps sent all of us on a guided tour of D.C.  We visited several of the memorials, and had time to explore the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History.  That evening, we attended a formal banquet and awards ceremony, with special guest speaker Ken Jennings, of Jeopardy fame.  Finally, the kids loosened their ties, and kicked off their shoes for a dance party... and one last chance to say goodbye to new friends.
"That's about all I can think to tell you... other than that Tommy is feeling motivated and inspired to go back to the Bee next year, and improve on his performance.  He started talking about it before we even left D.C.!"

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LIFE of Tampa sends hearty congratulations to Tommy and his family for another great season and many thanks for the terrific report "from the field"!  We'll  be hosting a local Bee again at this winter, and we're sure Tommy will be there competing again!