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Three Southern Maryland pre-teens were among the competitors in the 85th Annual Scripps National Spelling Bee this week, held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center at the National Harbor.

Though Michelle Beaulieu of Callaway, Christian Kincaid of Owings and Sydney Christley of White Plains, all of whom are seventh graders, did not advance to the semifinals, which were held Thursday, they each had previously won a county spelling bee in order to advance to the national level.

Round 1 of the national bee was held on Tuesday and each of the 278 spellers were given a computer-based test in which they had to spell 50 words, 25 of which counted for one point each toward their preliminary scores.

In rounds 2 and 3, which were held on Wednesday and televised live on ESPN3.com, each speller was given one word per round and each word was worth three points.

Rounds 1 through 3 had a maximum score of 31 points and the 50 spellers to progress to the semifinals had a score of at least 23, according to Scripps National Spelling Bee Director Paige Kimble.

In rounds 2 and 3, respectively, Michelle, 12, missed “Dossier” but spelled “Realschule” correctly; Christian, 13, spelled “Zucchini” and “Mynheer” correctly; and Sydney, 13, spelled “Irascible” correctly but missed “Saxicolous.”

“I’m just excited to be here,” Christian said, “I think I did a good job I wasn’t that nervous.”

Christian said Scripps had given all of the spellers an online study guide that contained a long list of words that could be used in the bee.

“I think they stuck to those words they set aside pretty well,” said Christian, who attends Windy Hill Middle School. “I thought if you studied you’d think either ‘I know this’ or you could deconstruct it based on the clues they give you.”

Sydney agreed that “everyone seems to have a good grasp on those words,” but said being on stage was nerve-wracking all the same.

“There was a microphone and everyone’s looking at you,” said Sydney, who attends Matthew Henson Middle School.

Michelle, who attends Spring Ridge Middle School, pointed out that she and the other three students could always come back next year.

“At least we made friends for next year because we’re in seventh grade,” she said. “And I’ve learned a lot of new words.”

Michelle said she was disappointed to have missed “Dossier” in Round 2.

“I actually studied it so it was frustrating. … The second word I studied like yesterday so it was really fresh,” said Michelle, who said she studied by having her mom quiz her with a stack of flashcards that were color-coded based on the language of origin for each word.

Michelle’s mom, Sandy Beaulieu, said she was thrilled to see how supportive the kids were of each other.

“It is competitive but it’s everybody competing against the words rather than each other. It’s been fantastic,” Sandy Beaulieu said.

Christian’s mom, Lisa Kincaid, said with newspaper articles and a sign in front of Windy Hill Middle School wishing her son good luck, “We’ve felt so supported by our hometown.”

Five minutes after Round 3 ended, Kimble announced the 50 spellers that would be moving on to the semifinals.

Kimble said she thought this year’s words were more challenging than last year’s because there was only one perfect score this year versus five perfect scores last year.

Vanya Shivashankar, 10, of Olathe, Kan., was the student with the perfect score, Kimble said.

Thirteen-year-old Jack Nolan of Elkridge was the only Maryland student who scored high enough to progress to the semifinals.

“If you do not qualify we hope that once you absorb your disappointment, you do come back. … The spellers in the competition will appreciate your moral support,” Kimble said, inviting all of the spellers to watch the semifinals, which were broadcast on ESPN2.

The 2012 Scripps National Spelling Bee Championship Finals were held Thursday night and broadcast live on ESPN.

The winner of the spelling bee was unknown by time of press.

ldukes@somdnews.com