Christopher Thorpe, winner of the 14th annual Deseret News Spelling Bee, arrived in Washington Sunday to join more than 200 other top spellers as the Beehive State's delegate to the national competition.
Chris and a parent are guests of the Deseret News during Bee Week that continues through Friday in the nation's capital.The eighth-grade student from Orangeville, Emery County, received the grand prize March 30 after out-spelling 39 other contestants during his third time in the state bee. He finished 18th in 1988 and was runner-up last year to Colleen Huber.
In the past two months, the San Rafael Junior High School student added two more state honors to his portfolio. He took third among eighth-graders in a mathematics contest sponsored by Brigham Young University and won honorable mention in the state PTA Reflections Contest for his original musical score.
A son of Mr. and Mrs. Allen Thorpe, Chris will be speller number 99 in a field of 226 contestants from around the United States, Guam, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands and Mexico. Stars & Stripes will again send a champion from Department of Defense schools in Western Europe, North Africa and Egypt.
The National Spelling Bee, now in its 63rd year, is sponsored by Scripps Howard Newspapers with local competition conducted by participating newspapers.
This week's visit to Washington is not the first for Chris. In addition to visiting the area in 1984 with his family, he was among the Utah delegation to the national Boy Scout Jamboree last year at Fort A.P. Hill near Fredricksburg, Va.
Bee Week opens officially Monday with a get-acquainted barbecue for spellers and guests at Gunston Hall, the original home of George Mason, the father of the Bill of Rights. The Hall is famous for its architectural beauty as well as its historic significance.
Tuesday's agenda will include a sightseeing tour of the city's historic monuments and Arlington Cemetery. Four spellers chosen at Gunston Hall Monday will represent the National Spelling Bee at a wreath-placing ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns.
Other sites to be visited by the spellers and guests will be Annapolis, Mount Vernon, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, the Air & Space Museum and other Smithsonian Institution exhibits.
The spelling competition begins at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday in the grand ballroom of the Capital Hilton. The first round will include intermediate words from the Words of the Champions booklet, which was used by spellers this year. Round two will include final words from the booklet followed by additional words for round three.
When round four opens, words not previously studied by the spellers and taken from Webster's Third New International Dictionary will be used.
Spelling competition will continue throughout Wednesday afternoon and resume Thursday until a champion is selected.
The national champion will receive a cash award of $5,000, a trophy and a choice of Encyclopaedia Britannica's constitution edition or a set of The Great Books of the Western World. In addition, the top speller will be flown to New York Thursday night for an appearance on "Good Morning America" Friday.