Marblehead student wins Item spelling bee for fourth straight time
By Matt Tempesta
While she didn't do a dance to celebrate her fourth straight Daily Item Spelling Bee win, eighth-grader Amber Born didn't hesitate when she clinched the winning word in the 45th round.
"Schottische. S-c-h-o-t-t-i-s-c-h-e. Schottische"
With the correct spelling of the polka-like dance, Born won round-trip airfare to Washington, D.C., one week's hotel accommodation and spending money courtesy of The Daily Item.
Born will also get to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee for the fourth time, which she said is always exciting.
"It doesn't really get boring," said Born, who finished 41st out of 278 contestants last year. "You get to do sightseeing and hang out with all the other kids."
The Breed Middle School auditorium was packed to capacity with parents, friends and family who came to cheer on their spellers. Contestants Friday ranged from all over the North Shore, including Lynn, Saugus, Peabody, Nahant, Swampscott, Marblehead, Beverly, Lynnfield and Revere.
In the first round, "easel" claimed the first casualty of the bee, followed by "talc," "mirage" and "crimson." The second round saw even more contestants bow out on words including "necessary," "zenith" and "potash." But as the rounds got higher, the words got harder, with words such as "parfait," "mercurial," "cachet" and "poinsettia" tripping up spellers.
Born said she hones her spelling skills by reviewing word lists with her mom "over and over." And she always makes sure to know the language of origin.
"The spelling patterns are different depending on what the language is," said Born, who is home-schooled in Marblehead. "If it's a Greek word, then it's not going to be an 'f' it's going to be a 'ph.'"
Second-place winner Annie Burgett, a sixth-grader from Swampscott Middle School, matched Born word-for-word for more than 20 rounds, until she was tripped up in round 45 with "muishond," a type of weasel from Southern Africa.
"I really, really worked hard this year to study the challenge words so I knew most of them," said Burgett. "But I was kind of unsure on some of them."
Burgett said she never thought she would finish second.
"I worked really hard and just thought, 'Do what you can and that's all that matters,'" she said.
Gabriel Goldman, a sixth-grader from Higgins Middle School in Peabody, took home third place.
"I never dreamt of making it this far," said Goldman, who was stymied by a breed of dog, "dachshund."
Both Goldman and Burgett won Merriam-Webster's Collegiate dictionaries and $25 Barnes & Noble gift cards, which is perfect since they both said they love to read.
After the spelling bee, the three finalists met on stage to congratulate one another, as Burgett and Goldman bid Born good luck.
"You were amazing," said Burgett. "Really good luck in the nationals, I'm sure you'll do awesome."
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