Lawrence student advances in national bee

Middle-schooler will spell in semifinal round Thursday


That wasn’t a word Emma Steimle spelled in the preliminary round of the Scripps National Spelling Bee. But it is the one she used to describe standing on stage before camera crews and 277 fellow competitors and being given a word she knew how to spell correctly.

“It was a relief to know I knew how to spell all of them,” Emma said.

This week, Emma, an eighth-grader at West Middle School and daughter of Peter and Annette Steimle, traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the famous spelling bee.

Emma Steimle, of West Middle School, was named the winner in the Douglas County Spelling Bee at Southwest Middle School on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2012..

On Tuesday, she completed a “really hard” 50-word computerized spelling test. The next day during the preliminary round, she took to the stage and spelled the words “forage” and “Pickelhaube” correctly. Her scores from both days placed her among the top 50 students in the national spelling bee. Today she advances to the semifinal round.

For those wanting to watch from Kansas, the first round of today’s competition will air on ESPN2 from 9 a.m. to noon, and the championship round will air on ESPN from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.

“It has all been cool,” Emma said of her time in Washington, D.C.

Since the sixth grade, Emma has dreamed of competing at the national spelling bee. That year, she was knocked out of the Douglas County Spelling Bee for misspelling “anachronism.”

This year she earned her spot in the national spelling bee by winning the Douglas County Spelling Bee in February. Then in March she took first place in the Topeka Capital-Journal Regional Spelling Bee, a competition that included students from 24 counties.

“It is like wow,” Emma said about having her dream come true.

On Wednesday, Emma was introduced to new level of competition when nearly everyone competing spelled their words correctly in the first two rounds.

“On stage it was a little stressful until you spell, and then after that it was kind of boring,” Emma said about listening to 276 other students spell two words.

Regardless of how Emma does today, the experience has been one of a lifetime. As a first-time visitor to Washington, D.C., Emma and her family have gone to Arlington National Cemetery, National Archives, Library of Congress and National Zoo.

“We are having a wonderful experience here,” dad Peter Steimle said.