6-year-old Va. girl, homeschooled, doesn’t reach spelling bee semifinals

Posted at 7:38 AM, May 31, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-31 18:50:48-04

(CNN) -- Lori Anne Madison, 6, stepped boldly Wednesday afternoon to the microphone, lowered it a bit to fit her height, and took on the word "ingluvies" at the National Spelling Bee.

The youngest person ever to compete in the bee stumbled on the term for a bird's craw, spelling it "engluvies." Earlier, she correctly spelled "dirigible."

Although Lori Anne did not make the cut of 50 semifinalists for Thursday, she won a round of applause from fellow competitors and those in the audience.

Spellers took a written test on Tuesday, and those results figured into the selection of semifinalists.

The competition concludes Thursday night.

Lori Anne, a second-grader, joined 277 other contestants at the Scripps National Spelling Bee. She defeated 21 children in the regional bee in Prince William County in Virginia.

She won by spelling the word "vaquero," the Spanish translation of "cowboy" often used in parts of the South.

While she loves spelling, Lori Anne has other interests as well.

She likes to study while swinging upside down or jumping on her trampoline, according to her bio on the event's website. She's also a competitive swimmer, has won math and science awards, and takes karate, dance and tennis classes.

Since 1993, there have been four spellers who were 8 years old, said Mike Hickerson, the bee's communications manager.

Incentives include a $30,000 cash prize, an engraved trophy, a $2,500 U.S. savings bond and a $5,000 scholarship.

Spellers range between ages 6 and 15, and come from all 50 states and U.S. territories. They include competitors from other nations, including China, Canada, Ghana and Japan.

The National Spelling Bee started in 1925 under a collaboration among nine newspapers. In 1941, Scripps assumed sponsorship of the event. It was not held during the war years of 1943-45.