7th-grader fares well at state Bee

ATLANTA -- Indian Creek Middle School seventh-grader Caitlin Smith didn't win the 2010 Georgia Spelling Bee at Georgia State University in Atlanta on Friday, but she knows she did well.

After eight rounds of competition and more than an hour of spelling, Smith placed 14th out of 20 contestants from around the state.

She said she was nervous during the competition, but many of the words weren't very difficult.

Smith spelled such words as prairie, physique, malihini, piazza, staccato, yamen and demotic.

When the caller gave her the word "tritium," she misheard the pronunciation and spelled "tribium," which was deemed incorrect.

Her mother protested the call, but judges wouldn't budge, saying it was the responsibility of the speller to understand the word and ask for further clarification if they are unsure.

"I didn't hear it right," Smith said. "I think if I wouldn't have misspelled that word, I would have went a lot further."

Still, her family, friends and school staff are proud of her accomplishments.

"I don't think we've ever had anybody go this far" in the spelling bee competition, said her science teacher Vicki Meeler. "She's an excellent student and well rounded."

Her English teacher Marjorie Morgan said she's not surprised that she did so well in the competition.

"She is incredibly gifted," she said. "She reads daily a plethora of books, and her vocabulary skills are incredible."

All participants take home $75 from Bee sponsors, as well as other prizes.

"This has been an amazing contest," said Richard McIntyre, chair of the Georgia Association of Educators Spelling Bee committee. "They are all winners who have proven themselves."