In the third round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee, Galloway Township student Ebose Eigbe initially looked confused, but then certain, when asked to spell exophthalmic Wednesday.
Ebose, 12, a sixth grader at the Roland Rogers Elementary School, paused and wrote the word in the air with his right hand as he slowly pronounced each letter.
“E-x-o-p-h-t-h-a-l-m-i-c,” speller number 152 said. “Exophthalmic.”
The correct spelling of the word, meaning the abnormal protrusion of the eyeball, was greeted with applause and a visible sigh of relief.
However, spelling both exophthalmic and ethylene correctly did not secure him a spot as one of 50 semifinalists to compete in today’s round of competition in Washington, D.C.
“Along with our entire school community, I am so proud of Ebose,” Galloway Superintendent Annette Giaquinto said in an email. “In addition to the hard work in preparing for the bee, Ebose displayed wonderful composure and represented us with great pride.”
According to bee officials, participants must earn 23 out of 31 potential points to advance to the semifinals.
Each word Ebose spelled Wednesday was worth three points each and the other points were part of a test participants took Tuesday before the competition began.
Students could earn one point per word they spelled correctly on the written test.
Teachers who worked with Ebose did not know what score he had received, but applauded the boy for his outstanding effort Wednesday.
“Everyone at Roland Rogers is obviously so proud of Ebose and his amazing journey,” Brian Dunn, a fifth-grade teacher at the school, said in an email. “From winning our school bee as a fourth-grader in 2010, to going all the way to Washington, D.C., this year, he has shown us all what hard work, dedication, and a lot of heart can ultimately accomplish.”
Ebose, who was sponsored by Townsquare Media in Northfield, was one of 278 spellers — seven of whom are from the Garden State — to advance to the annual international competition.
He represented South Jersey after beating out other local competitors in 22 rounds at the South Jersey Regional Spelling Bee held at Absegami High School in March.
“In my years involved with the bee, he is certainly the most amazing speller I have come across, and also a great, caring kid who loves his family, school, and his classmates,” said Dunn, who has organized the Rogers’ spelling bee for the last five years. “Although I know he is probably disappointed right now, I hope he can look back on this experience and remember his accomplishments and the awesome experience he had.”
According to Ebose’s profile on the Scripp’s website, his favorite subject is math and he hopes to become a teacher one day.
“A Boy Scout, Ebose has maintained perfect attendance at school and has earned the ‘Good Citizen of the Month’ award,” reads the description, adding he plays piano and is a member of his school’s band.
This year is Ebose’s first time participating in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. He only first competed in spelling bees for the first time when he was 10.
In 2010, Ebose, a fourth-grader at the time, was one participant in the Tri-County Spelling Bee, but lost in the seventh round of competition when he misspelled boysenberry.
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