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Stevens Creek fifth-grader wins regional spelling bee

Posted: March 5, 2014 - 1:12am
Charles Li, 11 (left) and his friend John Coleman Hansen of Stevens Creek Elementary,  send text messages to friends and family after Charles won the 2014 Scripps Regional Spelling Bee.  The event was presented by The Augusta Chronicle on Saturday at the Morris Auditorium in Augusta.   Photo by Mike Adams
Photo by Mike Adams
Charles Li, 11 (left) and his friend John Coleman Hansen of Stevens Creek Elementary, send text messages to friends and family after Charles won the 2014 Scripps Regional Spelling Bee. The event was presented by The Augusta Chronicle on Saturday at the Morris Auditorium in Augusta.

By the 22nd round, only two of 14 contestants were left in Saturday’s regional competition for the 2014 Scripps National Spelling Bee.

For the next 20 rounds, Lin­coln County Middle School eighth-grader Kevin Chen and Stevens Creek Ele­men­tary School fifth-grader Charles Li spelled words including “capitulation,” “meistersinger,” “erudite,” “prerogative” and “nachtmusik.”

In the audience, Charles’ mother, Grace Wang, felt her nervousness begin to ease, she said. Her son grew more apprehensive.

“I was really nervous because I thought I was going to get one wrong and he was going to win,” he said.

In the 41st round, Kevin stumbled on the word “fuselage.”

On his turn, Charles correctly spelled “ameliorate,” then won with “calypso.”

He advances to the national competition in Washington, D.C., to be held May 25-31. It will be televised on ESPN.

Charles finished third last year in the Columbia County spelling bee. He said he studied about 15 minutes a day this year using an online program, but he plans to study a little harder for the national competition.

He said he went to Wash­ing­­ton once for about a day and hopes to see more of the sights while he is there.

Academics has always come easy for Charles, who said he typically only studies about 15 minutes for any given test.

He has a gift for memorization, his mother said.

He also plays classical piano, and last year was one of two winners in the Sym­phony Orchestra Au­gus­ta Concerto Compe­tition.

Wang said her son can easily memorize 20 pages of music for a performance.

Immediately after his win, Charles grabbed his mother’s phone and began texting friends.

His prizes include a $250 Visa gift card, a Web­ster’s New International Dic­tionary, a one-year subscription to Encyclopedia Britannica online, and an all-expenses-paid trip to the national competition.

Contestants in the regional bee represented school districts in Jenkins, Edge­field, Lincoln, McCormick, Talia­ferro, Burke, McDuffie and Richmond counties. Others represented Wash­ington-Wilkes Mid­dle School, Lea­velle McCamp­bell Middle School, Aiken Area Home Edu­cators, the CSRA Home Edu­cation Asso­cia­tion, and West­minster Schools of Au­gus­ta.

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