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Local middle-schooler nabs second place in Scripps National Spelling Bee

Charlotte Walsh wins second place in Scripps National Spelling Bee
Charlotte Walsh wins second place in 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee (via Scripps National Spelling Bee/ Twitter)

When Charlotte Walsh qualified for the 2023 Scripps National Spelling Bee, she knew it was her last chance to pursue her childhood dream of becoming a finalist.

Little did she know she would come in second place, out of 231 competitors, and win a $25,000 cash prize. She finished behind Florida student Dev Shah, who won with the word “psammophile” and took home $50,000.

“I’m very excited to start high school with this [spelling bee win] being one of the greatest things I’ve done so far in my life,” Walsh told ARLnow on Friday, amid interviews with several TV stations.

Walsh, an eighth-grader from Lyon Park, correctly spelled 13 words — including “akuammine,” “rescissible” and “sorge” — but was unable to capture first place when asked to spell the Scottish word “daviely” (pronounced “dave-yuh-lee“).

Her astonished facial expressions were splashed across newspapers nationally while her rapid-fire approach wowed some spectators.

The middle-schooler is no stranger to the Scripps Bee. In 2019, she finished in 51st place and in 2022, she climbed to 32nd place. This year’s contest was her final shot at a finalist title, as eighth-graders are the oldest eligible group.

The Fairfax County Council PTA in Merrifield sponsored her after she won the Fairfax County Bee and qualified for the national competition.

Now, spelling bees may be a thing of the past for Walsh, per her Scripps profile. The incoming high school freshman will continue homeschooling, but will be trading a list of 4,000 words to know for books on astrophysics and neuroscience — all while training for a black belt in tae kwon do.

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