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Nicole, a seventh-grader at Traverse City West Middle School, earned a trip to the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C. after winning the 2011 Grand Traverse Regional Spelling Bee. She’ll face off against 274 other spelling phenoms for a chance at $30,000 in cash, a trophy, and a spotlight on national TV. The semifinals and finals will be televised on ESPN. She is sharing her experiences with us in her blog as she vies for the national title, May 31 through June 2.

Spelling awards banquet and farewell party

By Nicole Blakkan-EsserOn Friday, we took a taxi to D.C. to see some historical and meaningful places. My mom managed to get a White House tour for us.  It was amazing; with the decor and the views, it was all just so gorgeous.

After that, we walked around to see the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the WWII Memorial, the FDR Memorial, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and the Reflecting Pool. However, the Reflecting pool was rather sad because it was all torn up for reconstruction. More »

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Spelling bee semifinals and finals

By Nicole Blakkan-EsserI am really tired right now.  I spent over eight hours in the Maryland Ballroom today, waiting for and watching the bee.

The day started for the spellers at 10 o’clock this morning. Slowly, spellers were eliminated from the competition. It took four hours for the semifinals to narrow the field down to 13 contestants. More »

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Preliminaries and results

By Nicole Blakkan-EsserAgain, I had to wake up early. Drowsily, I passed through security and headed up onto the stage. My placard sat upright in the chair I was supposed to sit in. I sat next to other people from Michigan. As each speller cautiously approached the microphone, my nervousness slowly faded. I was pleased each time I heard the word and knew how to spell it. More »

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Round one at the national spelling bee

By Nicole Blakkan-EsserI don’t like waking up early, but I had to get up at 6:15 yesterday so I could make it to the round one test. We went the ballroom, and I found my seat. The seating arrangement was classroom style; everyone faced the front in rows. Our seats were assigned by our speller number. I sat down at my seat and looked at my materials. The Scripps people had provided me with a test form, a pad of paper, five blank scratching sheets, and two pens. More »

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Registration day and Gunston Hall BBQ

By Nicole Blakkan-EsserSunday morning my family slept in. After eating breakfast, we headed down to the Speller Registration Desk where I was fitted with my name placard.  I was given lots of bee materials and gifts including: the Bee Week Guide, my participation certificate, a savings bond, a backpack, a Merriam-Webster water bottle, a notebook, and a gift card to use at the hotel restaurants.   More »

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Small town to big city

By Nicole Blakkan-EsserEditor’s Note: We’ll be featuring daily blogs from Nicole Blakkan-Esser, winner of the Grand Traverse Regional Spelling Bee, as she competes this week at the Scripps National Spelling Bee in Washington, D.C.

Hello! My name is Nicole Blakkan-Esser, and I have the honor of representing our region at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. Saturday I departed from Cherry Capital Airport to begin the adventure of  Bee Week. More »

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Sights, sights, and more sights!

Chris RiceWe started Friday off heading down to the Independence Ball Room in the Grand Hyatt to watch the semi-finals of the Bee. The media was all over anyone who had a spellers badge on. I talked with NPR but didn’t make the cut on the radio. We had to leave before the semi round was over to make an appointment with Congressman Dave Camp’s office at 2 p.m.

The Capitol Building was amazing. Everything from the floor to the ceiling had some sort of artistic design on it. Marble, columns, and more marble! We saw Chandler and Cass statues from the state of Michigan. This was the first time that I had heard of these two fellas from Michigan. We went from rotunda minor to rotunda major where JFK to Ronald Regan laid in state for public viewing. More »

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…a day to become more determined

Chris RiceWell, I spelled my one and only word yesterday, “sidereal.” My paper test score was not enough to carry me into the quarter final round.

What I have learned today cannot be taught in a classroom. I learned that patience, as well as hard work and determination, are the keys to success in the Scripps National Spelling Bee. What I have found that is important to me, even though I lost this time, is the support of my family, friends, and the support of my community has renewed my determination to reach the National Spelling Bee in the future. More »

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Today is the day….

Chris RiceThis morning, bright and early, I will be on stage spelling my last word of the preliminary round. If I successfully spell this word correctly, three points will be added to my paper round total. Sometime around 12 p.m. I will know if I’m headed to the quarter finals or to the audience to root on my fellow bee friends. Either way this has been and adventure of a life time. More »

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A visit to Turkey Run

Chris RiceTuesday morning my parents and I got on a bus along with all the other spellers and their entourage to go to Turkey Run. Turkey Run is a wooded park with pavilions, numerous sports areas and an 18th century working farm. We were able to sample food such as BBQ chicken, Edy’s ice cream and snow cones. I met kids from New Zealand, Canada, to California and every imaginable place in between. At 3 p.m. we were pretty tired and headed back to the hotel.

Wednesday is the trip to the Steven F. Udvar Hazy Center. This is an aerospace center set up by the Smithsonian Institute in an old airplane hanger at Dulles Airport. It contains everything from flight simulators to the Enola Gay. It no doubt will be interesting. More »

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