There are 281 spellers ages 8 to 14 in Oxon Hill, Md. this week for the 86th Scripps National Spelling Bee, and two of the semifinalists are from Massachusetts.
The kids are from all 50 states as well as Canada, Italy, Puerto Rico, Jamaica, Ghana, American Samoa, China, the Bahamas and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Here is one of our semifinalists, Amber Born, celebrating yesterday with a friend after learning she made the cut.
AP Photo/Cliff Owen
And here is more about our spelling wiz kids, courtesy of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. It turns out they are both big Beatles fans!
Amber Born, 14, of Marblehead. Amber, who wants to be a comedy writer one day, has appeared in this spelling bee four times. She tied for 42nd place in 2012. She is an 8th grader who is home schooled and plays keyboard in a Beatles tribute band
Matthew Donohue, 14, of Kingston. Matthew plays percussion in his school’s jazz band and likes to listen to the Beatles. He is in the drama club and volunteers with the Best Buddies program. He is an 8th grader who goes to Silver Lake Regional Middle School.
For the first time, spellers had to take a vocabulary test. The 45-minute computer test that challenges their knowledge of both spelling and vocabulary is combined with the Wednesday on-stage round to determine which spellers advance to the semifinals. The contestants found out about the new vocabulary portion in April.
Find out more about the historic test in this Associated Press video.
Here are the contestants taking the vocabulary test. Check out the concentration.
AP Photo/Cliff Owen
The semifinals will air live on ESPN2 from 2 to 5 p.m. today. The championship finals will air live on ESPN tonight from 8 to 10 p.m. The winner will receive $30,000 in cash and prizes and a trophy.
Want to know more about the competition? Check out "Six things you probably didn't know about the Scripps National Spelling Bee," courtesy of Time.
Go Amber and Matthew!
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Kristi Palma, Boston.com Moms producer, is the mom of a first grader and a preschooler. She is a writer who enjoys cooking her grandmother's Italian recipes (when her son isn't launching paper airplanes into them). Follow her on Twitter @kristipalma.