Stacey Matsumura says she isn't superstitious - but just in case, she's going to wear the same dress to the National Spelling Bee she wore April 3 when she won the Utah contest sponsored by the Deseret News.
"It might bring me luck," she said.
Stacey, 13-year-old daughter of Susan and Les Matsumura of Bennion, will represent the Beehive State at the 65th annual competition this week in Washington.She and her parents left Salt Lake International Airport on Saturday to participate in Bee Week activities that run through Friday. Only two days will be devoted to the spelling competition; the other days will be filled with sightseeing in the Washington area.
"I'm looking forward to seeing Baltimore and the aquarium," Stacey said. "But it will be fun to see the rest of Washington, too, and meet other kids."
First stop on the Baltimore tour will be Fort McHenry, site of America's victory over the British in the War of 1812. It also marks the place where Francis Scott Key, held captive on a British ship, penned "The Star Spangled Banner."
The Utah winner and a parent are guests of the Deseret News during Bee Week at The Capital Hilton, where the spelling competition begins at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday.
Stacey will be the 135th contestant out of 227. And because of the large number of participants, organizers will eliminate the "beginner" and "intermediate" words in the opening round and go directly to the advanced section of the "Words of the Champions" booklet.
The booklet was distributed to district winners in March to prepare them for the Utah State Spelling Bee. The national's second round will include words taken from the "1992 Sponsor Bee Guide," which Stacey received following the state bee in preparation for the national contest.
But when the third round begins Wednesday, words will be taken directly from Webster's Third New International Dictionary and its addenda section. This will include words that have not been included on any list provided to the spellers, although they should be familiar and could be encountered by middle-school-age students, according to officials.
This year's spellers represent sponsoring newspapers from 47 states, including Hawaii and Alaska, as well as the District of Columbia, Guam, Mexico, Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, and Department of Defense and State Department schools in Western Europe, Egypt and North Africa. See SPELLING on B2
Stacey will be missing four days of school, but her teachers and students at Bennion Junior High School will be "rooting for me." She then returns for a week until school lets out June 5.
"She has been so busy with extra school assignments that she hasn't had time to study the words," her mother said. "But I think she will do OK."
All spellers will be honored during an awards banquet Friday evening. The winner will receive $5,000, a trophy and other special prizes. Cash awards for second through 227th range from $4,000 to $50.
When the National Spelling Bee began in 1925, nine contestants participated. All were guests to the White House to meet President Coolidge. The contest has been held annually except during World War II.
There will be 117 girls and 110 boys participating in the competition this year, equal to last year's record number.