Friday, Jun. 08, 2012
Pleasant Hill teen competes in Scripps National Spelling Bee
Trip marks the second time Jacob Longmeyer competes on national stage
By Bethany Bashioum
Eighth grader Jacob Longmeyer is a spellebrity – “a person renowned for the ability to spell difficult words under pressure, bright lights and the adoring gaze of millions.”
The 14-year-old from Pleasant Hill was one of 278 students who competed at the 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee last week in the Washington, D.C. area.
“Spellebrity” was the theme given to the competition that took place May 30-31.
It was Longmeyer’s second trip to the national bee, and he said it was good to know more about what to expect of the competition.
“I knew what it was going to be like,” Longmeyer said.
Longmeyer competed in 2009 Scripps National Spelling Bee, but was eliminated before the semifinals round, the same place he finished this year.
While he didn’t win, Longmeyer said competing in bees in the past several years has helped him learn more about languages and the meanings of words.
Longmeyer qualified to compete in the competition on March 9 by taking first place in the Cass County Spelling Bee on the word “cauliflower.”
He said that being able to represent his county was a privilege and it encouraged him to study harder.
“There are a lot of people who have been studying for three hours every day, and once they get out, it’s a big deal,” said Longmeyer, of the commitment other participants have toward the competition. “Then, there are others who just make it there, like me, and it’s just good to be there.”
Longmeyer said he heard from this year’s winner, Snigdha Nandipati, 14, San Diego, who spelled “guetapens” correctly in the thirteenth round, that she spends six hours each weekday and 10 hours on the weekends studying for the annual bee.
Three other students from the Kansas City area participated in the bee: Grant Pace, Parkville, Vanya Shivashankar, Olathe, and Jordan Hoffman, Lee’s Summit, who was one of the nine finalists in the championship round.
The preliminary round of the competition consists of a test delivered by computer (round one) and two rounds of oral spelling onstage (rounds two and three).
In round one, a speller will spell 50 words using a computer keyboard. Only 25 of the 50 spellings will count toward the speller’s preliminary score.
Each speller receives one point for each score word spelled correctly during the round one test and three points for each word spelled correctly during round two and three, for a maximum possible score of 31. The top 50 spellers advance to the semifinals.
This year, Longmeyer said participants would have needed to have earned 23 points to make it to the semifinals. Personally, he received 18 points.
The championship round features the top nine spellers in the semifinals to determine a winner.
In addition to spelling bees, Longmeyer’s other interest is music, especially percussion, alternative rock, and the band “Florence and the Machine.” He participates in marching band, jazz band and teaches piano, and has received several first ratings at solo and ensemble contests.
Longmeyer is also attempting to learn Mandarin.